• Sarah Goldstein

Valentine's Around the World


Art by Jillian Mae Machacon

Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, is to this day the only Olympian whose true origin is unknown. This mysterious idol is an Olympian, a legend of the Greeks. It is said that Zeus, the God of the Heavens and the King of the Gods, arranged her marriage to Hephaestus, the God of Smithing. Despite the arranged marriage, Aphrodite found that her heart truly belonged to Ares, the God of War. Together, they had 4 children; Harmonia, twins Phobos and Deimos, and Eros. This is where the story of Valentine’s day begins.


Aphrodite is known to have captured the eyes of ancient artists, inspiring them to dedicate thousands of their works to her. Her well-known son, Eros, the God of Affection, also found himself to be the focus of many Renaissance paintings. This is where the image of our modern Cupid comes from. Generally, when people think of Cupid, they tend to associate him with the picture of a chubby baby with angel wings and arrows, as depicted in these works of art. However, this is not the appearance that Eros is said to have kept. He was a young man, just like the other Olympians, rather than the infant portrayed by painters. There are some aspects to Cupid’s appearance that both accounts share. To mortals, his wings represent that lovers are always free to make the choice to fly away from each other. Another part of artists’ depictions remained accurate was Eros’ weapon of choice; the bow and arrow. A little known fact is that he carried only two arrows in his quiver, one with a shiny golden tip, and one with a dull lead one. The golden arrows made people fall in love, while the lead caused people to fall out of love.


On Valentine’s Day, Aphrodite and Eros seem to sure have their work cut out for them! After all, the holiday is celebrated all over the world.


Denmark

In Denmark, the holiday is still fairly new. Instead of exchanging roses with their lovers like the tradition in the United States, Danish people press white flowers called snowdrops and exchange those instead. In addition to this, men also give their Valentines a gaekkebrev, or a satirical letter. It is typically written on a piece of intricately cut paper. At the end of the funny letter, the men sign the card with anonymous dots. If the woman receiving the letter can correctly guess the identity of the man who sent her the gaekkebrev, she earns an Easter egg later in the year.


South Korea

In South Korea, the holiday is celebrated from February to April! The tradition of gift-giving begins on February 14th with the women. They give flowers and chocolates to their partners. It then switches up on March 14th on a day known as White day, when it’s the men who woo their lovers with flowers and chocolates. They even raise the stakes with a gift. And of course, for those souls who have yet to find love, there is a third day, Black day. On April 14th, these single pringles mourn their lack of a relationship by eating black noodles, made with black bean paste.


Wales

In Wales, they celebrate Saint Dwynwen rather than Saint Valentine. A love spoon is considered a common gift. Men carve the spoon with different patterns, each with a different meaning. This unique tradition started in the 17th century. As Aphrodite journeys all over the world, she is sure to experience all of these unique traditions.


Aphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty. As such, many souls reach out to her on Valentine’s Day, just as they did in olden times, seeking romance. Ancient Greeks and Romans would journey to her temples, pray and leave offerings, hoping to be blessed with her touch. Since most of us aren’t able to fly to Greece or Italy to honor her in her temples, we won’t be doing that. However, there are still many things that you can do this Valentine’s day to channel your inner Aphrodite. She believed that she was beautiful, no matter what, as should you! Remember that you are beautiful because of your imperfections, not despite them. Wherever she goes, whatever she does, she exudes confidence and reminds us on this holiday to embrace our own inner goddess. Each time she embarks on the journey of a new relationship, she embraces the unknown. She makes the jump and never looks back. It is natural to be fearful, but you never know what could happen. Be brave! When you are scared, you need to trust that Aphrodite will help guide you, and maybe send her son Eros to give you a little luck! She will be right next to you, cheering you on and helping you through all of your struggles. We know that Aphrodite was the Goddess of beauty, inside and out. You are important, so let your soul shine through! To bring Aphrodite into your life is to stop comparing yourself to others. You are beautiful and unique! So stop telling yourself otherwise!


Just remember, although Eros might have missed you this year, you are still a beautiful person. Love yourself!

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