Valentine’s Day in the US

(VOVworld) Valentine's Day, celebrated on February 14, is a festival of love and many people give cards, letters, flowers, or presents to their spouse or partner. They may also arrange a romantic meal in a restaurant or a night in a hotel. Today we will talk with Joseph Fitzsimmons, an English language teacher and a photographer of the US to learn more about this holiday in his country.

Q: Hi Joe! Glad to have you on our show today. Please introduce about yourself.

I’m Joseph Fitzsimmons. I’m from Chicago, the cold city of Chicago but things will get warm very quickly on Valentine's Day. I’m an English language teacher and I'm a photographer.  I love food and chocolate so that's why Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays. 

Q: Many people in Vietnam are celebrating Valentine’s Day but to be honest we don’t know much about the history of that day. Do you know it?

The history of Valentine's Day itself is a little curious because not everybody agrees on the actual origin of the holiday itself. And basically I think there are two main opinions about the origin of that holiday. The first one comes from a story from 2000 years ago. A  Roman Emperor Claudius II conquered most of Europe. He worried that his soldiers would become lazy so he decided to ban them from getting married. The soldiers got homesick, wanted to have a wife. A Roman bishop, St. Valentine, thought that a man and a woman in love should be able to get married, so he secretly wed them. No secret can last. Eventually, the emperor found out and the bishop was put in jail and was executed on February 14th.  So, many people believe that Valentine’s Day is to commemorate the   anniversary of Valentine’s death, and to honor him as a martyr. St. Valentine is regarded as the patron of lovers. The second story about Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with love.  The Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. (Pagan, basically = non-Christian, so not liked by the Christians). Who really knows? Me personally I like the Roman bishop story better. 

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Q: In which country was Valentine’s Day first celebrated? Some people say the US but others say the UK.

I think it is commonly believed that the Americans began exchanging handmade Valentine's gifts in the early 1700s but some people say the 1840s. I have read that the actual first Valentine's Day card actually originated in the U.K. So it makes sense that the whole idea of the Valentine's Day card was brought over to the US. And just like anything else American, they are the ones who made that Day popular. And then it was spread to Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, and a lot of the English-speaking colonies.


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Q: What are the signature gifts for Valentine’s Day in the US?

That's a good point. Then you can tell me some of the signature gifts for Valentine’s Day in Việt Nam.  It really depends on the age of the people, because Valentine's Day is unique and similar to Christmas in the sense that people give and receive gifts, right? But Valentine's Day is a little bit different because even little children can make gifts and write basic simple words. So for the young children the common things are handmade letters and candy. And in high school it will be flowers and more expensive chocolate gifts. And for adults, when they start getting into a real relationship, that is when they are kind of getting signature gifts. For example, popular gifts could be roses and chocolate together or a teddy bear or a bottle of red wine and a box of chocolate.

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Q: Can you share with us some of your memories of Valentine’s Day?

I am not really a big Valentine's Day guy because I think every day should be a day of love and you should give your love flowers and chocolate every day. My best Valentine's Day memory is actually taking a girl out to dinner who I had just met the week before so it was like a friendly first date for us. There was no pressure of love for us on that Valentine's Day. We knew that was an opportunity for us to have fun with the holiday and to get to know each other better. After dinner we took a nice long walk along Lake Michigan. It was cold so that was a good excuse for us to keep each other warm. Hands were in my jacket pocket. I don't want to say it was a romantic evening but it turned out to be a nice evening and that was the beginning of our relationship. 

Q: Could you read a few of your favorite poems or love letters?

Sure, I’d love to.

Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired”. Robert Frost

“A man is not where he lives, but where he loves.” Latin Proverb

When you are in love you can’t fall asleep because reality

is finally better than your dreams.”    Dr. Suess

And two Popular Valentine Love Letters  

My Dearest,

I love you more than I could ever express in a few words. I long to be with you as I feel the happiest when I am in your arms. You are the most incredible thing that has ever happened to me and I treasure you more than you know. When I look into your eyes, my dear, I am lost in a world of magic. I love you. I love you each and every day. I love you more than words can say.

Happy Valentine Day

Yours forever,

My Darling,

I have been dreaming about you all my life, and today I express my love for you. I fancy holding your hand and enjoying the journey of life together.  The time spent with you is the most mesmerizing and delightful of my life. I believe in miracles and that's why I am asking whether you will be my valentine for the rest of my life. My tender love and my hug are always with you. This letter is a token of love for you.

Thank you Joe for being here with us!

                                                                                                                                    Minh My