Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world so it’s not surprising that it is celebrated in Latin American countries. The Latino community uses the holiday to celebrate not only romantic relationships but the love that is shared between family and friends as well.
The cacao plant is indigenous to Mexico and in the time of the Aztec empire, chocolate was highly prized for its flavor and invigorating effects. Cacao beans were used as money and even counterfeited. The tale is told that Emperor Moctezuma drank fifty golden goblets of chocolate a day to enhance his libido and assure the continuance of his line.
Chocolate contains theobromine, a substance related to caffeine, which explains the energy boost it provides, as well as phenylethylamine and serotonin, mood-lifting agents. These last two have been found to have a stronger effect on women than on men and that might account for why it is the most popular gift on Valentine’s Day.
Ever wonder where the Valentine roses come from? It’s a good chance they were grown and picked in Ecuador. Ecuador’s elevation and climate are ideal to grow roses in and about one-fourth of the world’s roses come from Ecuador. So if you get a dozen roses for Valentine’s Day, three of them will be from Ecuador.
Guatemalan Old Love Parade
Known as El Día del Cariño, Valentine’s Day in Guatemala is a colorful, affectionate affair. Guatemalans exchange flowers, chocolates, and cards with friends and family as well as admirers.
Guatemala City has a large parade every February 14th called the Old Love Parade. It features the community’s senior citizens riding festive floats wearing colorful costumes to celebrate the holiday.
Angelito o Amigo Secreto
A fun Valentine’s Day tradition among children in the Dominican Republic and El Salvador is a small gift exchange similar to Secret Santa. They call this Angelito or Amigo Secreto, the former translates to Little Angel and the latter to Secret Friend.
In Peru, February 14 is considered a public holiday since Carnaval also takes place during the holiday of love. They celebrate this day with large weddings and festivals. They also exchange orchids, a native flower, rather than traditional flowers such as roses.
A Rose for Love and a Book Forever
In Spain, couples rejoice their love on April 23, when the nation celebrates St. George’s Day or La Diada de Sant Jordi. This public holiday is also known as El Dia de la Rosa (The Day of the Rose) or El Dia del Llibre (The Day of the Book), and the main event is the exchange of gifts, usually roses and books.
Dia dos Namorados
Dia dos Namorados or Lovers’ Day is a holiday celebrated on June 12 in Brazil. The date is celebrated with gifts, romantic activities, decorations, and festivities. Brazil does not celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th because of Carnival.
Single women perform popular rituals, called simpatias, in order to find a good husband or boyfriend. In addition to prayer, one might conceal a love letter in a pot of basil to pass to a prospective suitor.
Day of Love and Friendship
Because Colombia and Bolivia are below the equator their spring falls in September. Traditions of gift-giving and festivities are similar to other countries, however, Colombia celebrates on September 20 and Bolivia celebrates the following day on September 21.
Regardless of how or when we celebrate the holiday, it will always be a day to celebrate love. Be kind and show love to all of those around you this year. El mundo nunca puede tener demasiado amor. ¡Feliz Dia de San Valentin! The world can never have too much love. Happy Valentine’s Day!
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