It is a time to celebrate love and a legend with tradition, but where does Valentine’s day come from and what traditions do the Portuguese have when celebrating this day of love?
It was in the third century that the Roman Emperor Claudius II lived. He was obsessed with creating for the Empire an ever greater and stronger army, therefore, he forbade marriages, so that the young soldiers who left for the battles would not create strong family ties. It is said that a Christian priest, named Valentine, was among those who did not agree with this order and who would have, in absolute secrecy, continue to have people married. It was not long before he was discovered and, by order of the Emperor, he was arrested and sentenced to death. Until his execution, he was receiving flowers and letters sent as a demonstration of support and consideration for his conduct. The jailer who guarded him had a blind daughter, called Arteries, who longed to meet the martyr who celebrated love. So much so that she insisted to her father, that he should allow her to visit the priest. They met and fell in love, so much so, that the girl miraculously regained her sight! And the Christian priest signed his love letter from "your Valentine's", as it is still used today in certain countries. Sadly, he was executed on 14 February, 270.
On 14 February, the day that the feast of St. Valentine is celebrated, it was, in ancient Rome, the eve of the beginning of the annual pagan feast of the Lupercalia, which honoured the goddess of women and marriage and god of nature." However, in 1969, the Catholic Church stopped celebrating this feast. What is known today is that already in the Middle Ages they began to consider this day of February as Valentine's Day, because it was said that it was the first day of mating of birds in the northern hemisphere, and indicated the beginning of spring. It was then customary to leave handwritten messages to those in love at the entrance to your door.
English and French have celebrated this day since the seventeenth century and in the following century the festivities arrived in the United States. From 1840, it became a tradition to send cards printed with Valentine's messages or with drawings of Cupids. In the 20th century, this custom became global and with the event of new digital technologies, it can almost be said that it has gone viral.
Other than celebrating by giving flowers or chocolate to one another, an important Portuguese Valentine’s day tradition is the “Cantarinha dos Namorados” from Guimarães which celebrates Velentine’s day by keeping the tradition alive. The "valentine's song" is made of clay, by the hands of potters. Tradition has it that when a boy was willing to make the official marriage proposal, he first offered his girlfriend a little song, shaped in clay. The little song also had the function of storing the gifts that the new and the bride's parents offered during the engagement. Nowadays the little songs no longer serve to ask someone to marry, but they assume themselves as guardians of love stories and, who offers them, does so for symbolism and not with their initial purpose.
Another tradition are Valentine’s Scarves which are most associated with Viana do Castelo, however, this tradition of embroidery is present significantly throughout Minho, Viana, Vila Verde, Telões, Guimarães and Aboim da Nóbrega where Valentine's Scarves or Marked Scarves, embroidered, are tradition. The minhota girl starts learning to embroider from a young age. It was customary for this art to be taught from the outset so that, as soon as they entered adolescence, they would begin to prepare their trousseau. Within the handkerchief were expressed the feelings that invaded their souls. The embroidered scarves were used on Sunday, by the girls in love, in the skirt or in the pocket of the apron. Later, each girl offered only to the boy she loved, as a commitment to love. They, in turn, would wear it around their neck or put it in the pocket of their Sunday suit.