Valentine’s Day: All About Love

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Liz Waid and Colin Lowther look at a special day for love: Valentine’s Day. They look at the origins of this day, and celebrations around the world.

Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

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And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

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Seventeen hundred years ago, in the city of Rome, a man was put in prison. He was a Christian believer. And he had not obeyed the Emperor. He was sentenced to be executed. While this man was in prison, he met a young woman. She was the daughter of the prison guard. She visited this man’s prison cell often. They could not always talk together. So he and the woman began to pass notes to each other through the prison bars. They fell in love with each other. When it was time for the prison to execute the man, he sent her one last letter. The last note he sent to her was a love note. He ended it, “from, your Valentine.”

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Some people believe that this is the story that started the holiday we now know as Valentine’s Day. All around the world people celebrate this holiday on February 14th. They celebrate it in many different ways. But the message is the same everywhere — love! Today’s Spotlight is on Valentine’s Day!

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No one really knows if this story about the man, named Valentine, and the prison guard’s daughter is true. The holiday is actually named after at least two men, both named Valentine. Historians, people who study history, have little information about either of these men. Both men died because of their Christian faith – one died in 197 and one in 269. Historians believe that both men died on February 14th. Later, the Christian church recognized these men as saints — people of strong faith. And February 14th became Saint Valentine’s Day.

vintage valentine
Vintage Valentine; Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay
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Historical documents show that, originally, Valentine’s Day had little to do with love. A recorded link between Valentine’s Day and love did not appear until about 1,200 years later.

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In 1382 Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem about love. He was a famous English Poet. The poem told about birds coming together half-way through the second month of the year. The birds met on Valentine’s Day, to mate. The poem influenced many people. And soon after, other writers began to use these ideas in their own writing. The link between Valentine’s Day and love became common!

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By the 17th century, Valentine’s Day was celebrated all over Great Britain. About a hundred years later, people began to exchange small gifts or notes on Valentine’s Day. These gifts were an expression of love between family, friends, and lovers.

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Today, many people still celebrate Valentine’s Day in this way. They send a greeting card. These are usually just a simple paper note that expresses love or devotion. A person can send a Valentine’s Day greeting card to his lover, his parents, his co-worker, or even his doctor! In fact, the Greeting Card Association says that world-wide, people send over one billion greeting cards every Valentine’s Day!

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People in Canada, Mexico, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Australia all celebrate Valentine’s Day this way. But greeting cards are not the only thing people give or do. People may go out to a special dinner. They may buy each other a present, or just some good-tasting candy or chocolate. Other countries do different things.

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On Valentine’s Day in Japan, women give sweet candy, chocolate or flowers to people they like. They call this chocolate ‘giri-choko.’ In Japanese, the word ‘giri’ means obligation, or, something someone must do. And ‘choko’ is a short form of the word for chocolate. A woman may also give ‘honmei-choko’ to a person she loves or is in a relationship with. Or she can give ‘tomo-choko’ to her friends.

Giri-choko; “Happy valentines” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by chidorian
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This may seem nice for the men. But men who received honmei-choko must also give the women a present. This happens on White Day, one month later. On that day, a man must give the woman a present worth two to three times more than the present he got! Sora News 24 is a Japanese news site. It shared results of a survey about this tradition. Most men do not like it. In the survey, one Japanese man wrote:

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“I like getting the chocolates. But I hate having to buy every girl something in return. Honmei-choco is even worse, because you have to buy something super expensive on White Day!”

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In Finland they celebrate ‘Friend’s Day’ on February 14. This is not only a day for people in love. But, it is a day for celebrating and remembering your friends.

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Some places do not celebrate Valentine’s Day at all. But they do celebrate a different day for love. People living in Brazil celebrate ‘Boyfriend or Girlfriend Day.’ On June 12th, people in love exchange gifts like chocolates, cards, flowers, and even special clothes. Some women even use this day to perform special customs. They believe these customs will help them find a good boyfriend or husband.

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Colombians celebrate ‘Love and Friendship Day’ on the 3rd Friday and Saturday in September. And many groups of people join in a popular tradition called ‘amigo secreto’ or ‘secret friend.’ Each member of the group chooses another member’s name by chance. He gives the person he chose a gift on this day.

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So, people in different places celebrate a day like Valentine’s Day. They may celebrate it at a different time of the year. They may give gifts or greeting cards. They may write a special note to many people or to only one person. But there is a common idea in all of these actions. Valentine’s Day is a time to think about the people around you. It is a time to think about the people you love.

two people embracing
Image by Gennaro Leonardi from Pixabay
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It is important for people to feel loved. But often, we do not express our love for the people around us. So, Valentine’s Day offers people the perfect chance to tell other people how much you value them. Tell your wife or husband, or girlfriend or boyfriend how much you love them. Tell your parents or children how wonderful they are. Tell your friends how much you like to see them.

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Do you love someone? You should tell them! Then, tell US about what makes them so wonderful! You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

The writers of this program were Liz Waid and Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Valentine’s Day: All About Love’.

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Look for our listening app in the Google Play Store and in iTunes. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


How do you show the people in your life that you love them? Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Join the discussion

  • For me , i didn’t celebrate Valentine’s day before because my religion prevents that and I respect It . But I’m in love with my family, Parents and friends and we are always sharing the beautiful moments ❤️ And exchanging some gifts

  • I never celebrate the Valentine’s day. Actually, we can express our love to people
    who we love in our actions., so we have to care about them and make them happy every day.

  • I celebrated many times with my boyfriend , family ,and friends .Now I still celebrate but with my husband and my child. it is amazing day .

  • To show to the people in my life that I love them ,I just do actions which can make them happy.i love my family.no I Never celebrate Valentine’s day

  • Real, I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day, but I love love with all people, especially with my small family, my husband and my daughters, love is a rare value now .

  • I love my mam but my mam is diet before 12 yars a go but Evan time yat don’t forget my mam l love my mam I wish after I diet. Of see u the live other I want see u the first parson any one your see my massage My mother calls me my mercy

  • I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day because every day in my life I will be grateful to them and for their presence with me, and I thank them with some gifts.

  • I express my love for the people I love by caring for and respecting them
    No, I don’t celebrate Valentine’s

  • I dont celebrate valentine’s day but it is very important to make happy people around you regardessly if it is valentine’s day or not. I want to be more fond of my father, because I know he is a wonderful father, all this time I’ve not shown love to him because of past problems. But I must apologize and to let the past off and to go on because if I show how much I love him, I am sure he will become happier.

  • your program is very useful. I can learn more culture of many countries in the world. In addtion, I also understand about Valentine’s Day. Thank you.

  • There are many countries that celebrate Valentine’s day with much fun and laughter. February is rightly referred to as the month of romance.

  • That’s pefect if I and my girl friend go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day. But, it does not happend in the feauture.

  • I never celebrated the Valentine’s Day ,
    I do not think that love has a specific day. Love is present every day with family, friends, or a lover. Show love to them by paying attention to remembering the day of birth or by taking for them flowers or chocolates.

  • I dont show the people they i love that i love them , but i am always thinking in good way about them
    In reallity , i did’nt celebrate valentine’s day in my life , but every day i remember people they i love.

  • I only find a man giving a women a gift on the Valentine’s day in my country and they feel happy about it.

  • I personality don’t celebrate but I respect the people who do,and I like to show my love to the group of people that I love everyday without waiting for a special day

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