Love is in the air again now that Valentine’s Day is near.

On Feb. 14, couples around the world wear their hearts on their sleeves, tie the knot or spend lavishly on their lovers. It is a very joyous day for an occasion with such grim beginnings.

Valentine’s Day originally began as a celebration in honor of Saint Valentinus, who was said to have died a violent death after he aided numerous persecuted Christians by helping them to perform weddings. Legend has it that Valentinus, who was a Roman priest, wrote a letter before he died, signing off as “Your Valentine,” which is now a common greeting in Valentine’s Day cards.

A feasting day on Feb. 14 was later established to commemorate Saint Valentinus before becoming a popular day for courtships in the 18th century.

Today, Valentine’s Day has become a heavily commercialized day for expensive red roses and chocolates as well as mass weddings.

Thousands of couples are known to attend mass weddings on Valentine’s Day. Many in South Korea did so at the Unification Church in Gapyeoung Country while those in the Philippines got hitched at mass weddings supported by the government.

Other acts of love continue to be expressed through gifts.

In Japan, it is the women – not the men – who spend on their lovers lavishly. In South Africa, a less expensive show of love involves pinning on their sleeves papers handwritten with their lovers’ names.

Feasting is a big part of Valentine’s Day celebrations in Bulgaria, which also coincide with their wine celebrations.

In the early part of the year, Bulgarians pay tribute to wine saints as they prune grapevines in preparation for harvest in the summer. Many would indulge in food, wine and a side of heart-shaped chocolates on Feb. 14 — quite the perfect combination.

Everybody – Happy Valentine’s Day

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