Language Matters January 2009: Valentine’s Love Letters Translation

Dear Language Friend,

Shhh… Do you sense it? The season of love is approaching your doorsteps. Just as spring comes, Valentine sweeps in and adds the hint of love in air. Couples prepare something special for their loved one, and the singles set sail on their New Year’s resolution, searching for their special someone.

Dear Language Friend,

In this issue of our newsletter, you will be introduced to the ORIGIN of Valentine’s Day in the West and the East, WHAT each country carries out on this special day, and HOW we can add the air of love under your wings.

Contributed by Tiffany Ho. Thanks for reading.

Heartfelt Origins

In the West, Valentine’s Day began in the time of the ancient Roman Empire. February 14th used to be a holiday to honour one of their goddesses – Juno Feast of Lupercalia. During that period, young boys and girls carried on their daily lives separately; however, on the eve of Lupercalia, every young Roman boy would draw out a young girl’s name from a jar, and be paired up for the duration of the festival. At times, the pairing lasted an entire year, resulting in the couples falling in love and possibly marrying later on.

At the time when Claudius II ruled, Rome was involved in never-ending wars. Claudius II found it difficult to recruit more soldiers to his bloody campaigns, and came to the conclusion that this was due to the sentiment of unmarried men wanting to stay with their loved ones. Coming up with a solution, Claudius II ordered all engagements to be cancelled, and that no couples were to marry. Seeing this unreasonable order placed into effect, Saint Valentine, the Roman priest, secretly married couples; however, Claudius II soon found out and ordered Saint Valentine to be apprehended. On the 14th day of February, in the year around 270, Saint Valentine suffered martyrdom and was beheaded.

Years later, when Christianity became the main religion in Rome, Christians changed the celebration of goddess Juno to a day honouring Saint Valentine for his bravery in carrying out righteous deeds. And as this tradition progressed, Valentine’s Day evolved to become a day for romantic love.

In the East, every 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar from ancient China is a day for loving couples. Legend has it that the Jade Emperor from the heaven had 7 daughters. The youngest daughter, Weaving Maiden, was the most clever and skillful in embroidery. All significant embroidery projects in heaven were managed by her.

The Jade Emperor also had a herd of bulls, and a man called Cow Herder was taking care of this herd. Both the Cow Herder and the Weaving Maiden were in love with one another at the time, and spent plenty of time together to the point their efficiency of work was affected. When the Jade Emperor found out, he ordered magpie to notify the lovers to focus more on their tasks. However, magpie delivered the message wrong, and the two lovers took the message as the Jade Emperor’s consent to their relationship, which led to the total negligence of their tasks.

This time, the Jade Emperor became furious, he gave out a commandment – they were only permitted to meet with one another once a year, which is on the 7th day of every 7th month of the lunar calendar. On this day, the magpie and its friends and relatives would be responsible for bridging between the starry river (Milky Way), allowing the two lovers (Cowherd Star and Weaving Maiden Star) to meet on the shoulders of magpies. Because they could only meet once a year, it would normally be raining on this day, signifying their mournful sorrows.

Valentine Customs

Vibrant roses, savory chocolates… what else is there on Valentine’s Day? As you already know, these two items are classified as representations of love during Valentine’s in the West, and this Western tradition also seeped through many Eastern cultures. For example, Japanese ladies would give chocolates to their secret lover on Valentine’s Day, and if their secret lover also likes them, he will give something back exactly 1 month later. As for Taiwan, both the traditional lunar calendar lover’s day and the Western Valentine’s day are significant for lovers. Though the traditional custom is to light lanterns and pray together on lover’s day, chocolates and roses are also integrated into the traditional custom. As for Korea, the tradition for Valentine’s Day has been adopted from the West as well.

Add the Air of Love under Your Wings

Do you have a secret admirer or lover who speaks another language? Would you like to write a love letter in his/her mother tongue? Leave it to us! LingoStar can help you translate your love letters into flowing and loving words. Your admirer would surely dissolve into our carefully translated letters…