Why does Brazil celebrate Valentine’s Day on June 12?

. Jun 12, 2018
Why does Brazil celebrates Valentine's Day today? Brazil doesn't celebrates Valentine's Day on Feb.14

If you are a foreigner living in Brazil, you may have noticed a change in advertisements and shop-windows. All of a sudden, stores have become dominated by heart-shaped objects and have gone heavy on love-themed products. That’s because the Brazilian version of Valentine’s Day is celebrated on June 12 – February 14 is a date that means very little to Brazilians.

In the U.S. and Europe, February 14 is ostensibly celebrated in honor of Saint Valentine of Rome, a Christian martyr who, according to hagiography, lived during the Roman Empire and was imprisoned for secretly performing weddings for soldiers who didn’t have the permission to marry.

</p> <h3>Not exactly a religious meaning</h3> <p>Brazil&#8217;s celebration, however, has no connection with the Roman saint. Instead of calling the date &#8220;Valentine&#8217;s Day,&#8221; we Brazilians have <a href="">named</a> it <em>Dia dos Namorados</em> (Sweethearts&#8217; Day, though <em>&#8220;namorado(a)&#8221;</em> is used in Brazil to mean boyfriend/girlfriend).</p> <p>The date was created back in 1948 by advertiser João Doria &#8211; the late father of the former São Paulo mayor and Governor <a href="">João Doria Junior</a>. At the time, Doria Sr. worked for Standard Propaganda, an advertising agency. One of their clients wanted to boost sales in June, which was their worst month of the year at the time. So, João Doria created <em>Dia dos Namorados</em>, an extra date to exchange gifts.</p> <p>&#8220;A relationship is not built only with kisses,&#8221; was the campaign&#8217;s slogan. The move was a tremendous hit in São Paulo &#8211; and the idea quickly spread across the country. Today, Brazil&#8217;s version of Valentine&#8217;s Day is the third-best day of the year for Brazilians retailers. Roughly 98 million Brazilians spend over BRL 1.5 billion each year.</p> <p>This year in São Paulo, retailers expect a 3 to 5 percent rise in sales, which is not bad considering Brazil&#8217;s <a href="">persistent economic crisis</a>. In a statement, an entity representing São Paulo retailers said that lower inflation and interest rates would be an incentive to consumers.</p> <h3>Symbology of Saint Anthony</h3> <p>While the idea behind Brazil&#8217;s answer to Valentine&#8217;s Day is not exactly romantic, the day itself is not without its religious meaning: June 12 is the eve of Saint Anthony&#8217;s Day. In Brazil, the saint is known for blessing newlyweds and for helping single people to find their soulmates. For decades, women in Brazil would make vows to Saint Anthony and keep his image upside-down in water until tying the knot.

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Diogo Rodriguez

Rodriguez is a social scientist and journalist based in São Paulo.

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