Love is in the Air
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, retailers are stashing their shop windows with items they hope to sell to those desperately in love and looking for the perfect Valentine's gift for their sweetheart. Traditional items such as chocolates, red roses, pretty lingerie and jewelry are always a good standby, and dinner out at one’s favourite restaurant is another guaranteed pleaser.
The Legend of St. Valentine
St. Valentine was a bishop. Back in the time of the Roman Empire and Claudius II, marriage was prohibited. The empire had grown too large to be protected from external attack. Men were recruited as soldiers, to protect the nation from takeover. Claudius felt that married men were too emotionally attached and therefore would not make good soldiers. He believed that marriage made men weak.
The ban on marriage was a great shock for the Romans. Valentine sympathized with the young lovers and countered Claudius’ orders, in secrecy. Whenever lovers thought of marrying, they went to Valentine who secretly married them. Unfortunately, this did not remain hidden for long. It was only a matter of time before Claudius came to know of this and had him arrested. St. Valentine was executed on February 14, 270 AD.
Valentine's Day on a Budget
American studies show that internet-spending during these 2 weeks prior to Valentine’s Day is down considerably from last year at the same time. Total Valentine's Day spending is expected to be about $14.7 billion, 13.6 % less than the $17 billion spent last year, according to survey by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation.
On the days leading up to February 14, female consumers are purchasing about 25% of the total annual chocolate sales in Japan. There, Valentines Day is celebrated in a rather unique way. Women give the men gifts of chocolate, as well as other gifts.
The gifts of chocolate are divided into two types: giri choco (regular, average-priced chocolate) and honmei choco (expensive chocolate). Giri choco is given by women to for example, male colleagues while honmei choco is given to someone special. It is not unusual for a woman to buy 20 to 30 boxes of giri choco!
Whatever your budget, Valentine's Day is about expressing your love for someone. Keep in mind that the best gifts are often those not found in stores.... As the song goes, " It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away".
Tips / Activities:
Want to show your sweetheart how much you care without emptying your wallet? Gather your favourite photos of him/her and yourself, and import them into Moviemaker or Photostory. Add some meaningful words, and then add “your song” as background music. This is electronic card is a sure winner!
Not a poet? Send a humorous greeting by using the lyrics from “My Funny Valentine”, add some of your favourite, funny photographs, and print it out in colour for your very own custom Valentine’s card.
- Surprise your sweetheart with a picnic lunch. Make sandwiches and cut them into hearts with a cookie cutter!
- How has the economic recession in the US affected Valentine's Day sales?
- Explain how the celebration of Valentine's Day in Japan is unique compared to other countries.
- What are the two kinds of Valentine's chocolate in Japan called? What is the difference between the two?
Set the following words into the proper expressions.
Valentine, arrow, madly, sunshine, knight, one
- You are my _________ in shining amour.
- I am so ___________ in love.
- I have been struck by Cupid's __________.
- You are the ______________ of my life.
- You are my ___________ and only.
- Will you be my _______________?
In many countries, the celebration of Valentine's Day starts at a young age! Parents buy their children boxes of Valentines cards to give to their friends at school. On the one hand, the thought is well-meant. However, for some children this day can be a cause of stress and anxiety from the fear of receiving only few, if any cards at all.
- Sit in groups and discuss whether you feel that schools should set certain rules in place when it comes to the exchanging of cards among younger school children.
- How do you feel a person should respond to receiving a Valentine's card / gift from someone they are not particularly fond of? Think of ways of saying thank you without leading the other person on.
Japan created another important gift-giving day which occurs exactly one month after Valentine's Day. What is it, and what is its purpose?