Every culture has different Valentine’s traditions. Whether they call it Valentine’s Day or not, most cultures devote at least one day a year to the celebration of love.
In the U.S. and many western nations, we give cards, chocolates, flowers, and even jewelry to our sweethearts on February 14.
In Japan and South Korea, women give expensive chocolates to their significant other. The men give the ladies gifts on March 14.
In Malaysia, single women write their numbers on oranges and throw them into a river, hoping that their soul-mate will find it and call them. Usually, local merchants go fishing for these. They are considered good luck, and sell at top dollar.
But the stories are the best. In the West we’ve forgotten them, but in China, they still tell the tale of Niulong, a mortal who fell in love with a fairy. Although they were forbidden by the jade emperor to be together, Niulong rode magic shoes to the heavens to be with his beloved. The jade empress created the milky way as a barrier between them, but her heart was softened by a flock of magpies that built a bridge for the lovers, and she allowed them to be together one day a year. The Chinese celebrate that day in August. They call it Qixi, and it is very similar to Valentine’s Day.
The story that Hallmark has made us forget in the West is the tale of St. Valentine. St. Valentine lived in the 3rd century A.D. under the Roman Empire. The emperor had outlawed marriage among young people because he believed that marriage made men weak soldiers. St. Valentine married many young couples in secret.
He was eventually caught and sentenced to death. While in prison, St. Valentine allegedly prayed with the blind daughter of one of the guards, and her sight was restored. He wrote her a note that said, “From your Valentine.” The first Valentine!
This Valentine’s Day, keep the stories alive with this web quest about Valentine’s Day in different cultures–answer key included. I use it in my sociology class, but it’s also great for world history and other subjects.
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Teaching during the pandemic taught us a lot. I’ve been reflecting on that and this series, Reclaiming Education: What to Lose and What to Keep after the Pandemic is the result of those reflections. In this post, I discuss a way to lose Cookie-Cutter Learning in favor of a workable style of Personalized Learning and the importance of keeping deadlines. Don’t forget to download the templates from my free resource library to help you implement this approach!
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