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Who on earth is Saint Valentine?

Our guardianship students come from all over the world. We have students from every continent who have all come to the UK to study. I spend so much of my time talking to them and learning about their traditions and cultures. So, it’s so nice to talk to them about our traditions and why we celebrate the way that we do.

I asked one of my Chinese students if they know why we celebrate Valentines day. She had no idea – but when pressed said it was to “thank your partner”. But most of all she said it was about chocolate. “Chocolate is important” and on this I strongly agree. I thought it might be interesting to know how she celebrated it in China. It turns out it is very similar to the UK. Gifts and tokens of appreciation to your partner and nearest and dearest.

“There’s no point as I don’t have a boyfriend” says another student from Singapore. “It is a very western holiday and only the young seem to celebrate it” say two young students from Armenia. But across the students I’ve asked, the message comes back loud and clear. That it is a time to say “I love you” to those who mean the most to you.

I must admit – I wasn’t entirely sure either. So, I did some research. The history is patchy, but it is believed that Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who was jailed by Emperor Claudius II. Claudius believed married men made bad soldiers, but Valentine disagreed, so he broke the rules and arranged marriages in secret. Claudius found out and threw him in jail. While in jail, Valentine fell in love himself with the jailer’s daughter. He was taken to be killed on February 14th and on this day wrote her a letter saying, “from you Valentine”.

So next time I’m met with a puzzled look I can share my new-found knowledge on how it began. Share our culture with our international students and enrich their time here in the UK!hith-st-valentine-2

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