Around The World

February 14 & 19

For many Americans, February means Valentine’s Day, and Valentine’s Day means giving cards and gifts and eating a lot of chocolate. Every year on Feb. 14, Americans spend billions of dollars on candy, cards, flowers and other gifts to give to their loved ones, but the reason this tradition started is not certain.

In Canada, another popular holiday in February is Family Day. It takes place on either the second or third Monday in the month, depending on where people live. The day was created to celebrate, “the importance of families and the family life to people and their communities.” The very first Family Day was held in Alberta in 1990. Slowly, other parts of Canada adopted the tradition.

  • Historians think the Valentine’s Day tradition is a mix of Christian and ancient Roman traditions.
  • One myth says that St. Valentine was a priest that married people secretly, even though it was made illegal by the Roman emperor Claudius II.
  • The oldest known Valentine was written in 1415.
  • Ancient Romans celebrated the pagan festival Lupercalia in the middle of February.
  • 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged every year in the U.S.
  • Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the U.S., UK, France, Mexico and Australia.
  • Family Day is the second Monday in February for British Columbia.
  • Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan celebrate it on the third Monday in February.
  • During Family Day, all federal workers have the day off and schools are closed.
  • Most people use this day to spend time with their families.
  • Popular activities include visiting museums, spending time outdoors and crafting.
  • Many businesses offer family discounts on this day.
  • For most of Canada, Family Day is on the same day as National Heritage Day, so people often try to explore their family history on this day.
  • Because the weather is so cold in Canada in February, sharing hot chocolate is a popular Family Day tradition.
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