France vs. America: The celebration of Valentine’s day

France vs. America: The celebration of  Valentine’s day

Jade Allami, Writer

As Feb. 14 is coming, red and pink become the colors of the month, stores feature heart-shaped articles, and couples begin to plan their date for this special night.

It is Valentine’s Day. Many celebrate this holiday, but only a few wonder what the day dedicated to love is like outside of the United States. France, known as the country of love, would be expected to have similar traditions for this holiday. Especially knowing Valentine’s Day originated there. Its purpose is to commemorate Saint Valentin who, during middle ages, was secretly unifying couples, but was executed on that day as a punishment for those illegal acts.

However, French people do not see the holiday as really important and do not make it as big of a deal or commercialize the event, like Americans do. In France, only couples celebrate the Saint Valentin, but they don’t see it as an important holiday, considering love should be celebrated year around. They don’t need a specific day in the year to say “Je t’aime” and to be romantic. However, they still go on a “rendez-vous,” usually in a fancy restaurant in town or a nice dinner at home. Similar to American teens, French teenagers exchange gifts with their significant other but not quite the same kind. Americans spend their money on cute teddy bears, candy boxes and flowers, and French couples usually offer jewels or sexy underwear to each other.

Although some people will deny it, the United States make Valentine’s Day a big deal in comparison to the rest of the world. It is one of the only places on Earth where people will buy a Valentine’s Day present for  their pets, organize Valentine’s Day balls, daddy-daughter dances and other parties. They also decorate their high school hallways with hearts, send Valentine grams, and give Valentine’s Day cards to their friends and family. In fact, a French person would get the wrong idea if they received such a card.

Although French people do not see Valentine’s day as important as we do in America, some couples still decide to make this day special. One place in the region of Indre, France, is the famous Saint Valentin village, where couples from all around the country attend the Festival of Love. The whole site is decked out with red roses. Lovers  can also get married in the Garden Gazebo, pin their  love notes on the Tree of Vows, and plant a tree that will, hopefully, flourish or commemorate their love on the Tree of Eternal Hearts.

Not only are the United States and France separated by the Atlantic ocean, but also by their differences in culture, that are not always well accepted by each other. While a major part of the Americans are too conservative to accept the kind of presents French people offer to their girlfriend or boyfriend, most French people on the other hand will think teddy bears are too childish for high school. Although candy boxes and heart-shaped pizzas contribute to feed American stereotypes, the over-commercialization of any holiday products is definitely shading the real purpose of those celebrations.