Origin of Valentine’s Day and Dia dos Namorados

Despite being an important celebration for commerce, Dia dos Namorados is not considered a holiday or optional day off by the federal government. In addition, in the rest of the world, the day to celebrate romantic relationships is in February: Valentine’s Day. In Brazil, Dia dos Namorados precedes the Dia de Santo Antônio, which is culturally known as a matchmaker saint, but the origin of the date has nothing to do with romance.

The celebration originated in 1948 out of a commercial need. The creator was the advertiser João Dória, the father of former São Paulo Governor João Doria Jr. At the time, he had been hired by a store that wanted to improve sales results in June, as indicated by the Brazilian Association of Advertising Agencies (ABAP). In addition to being a commercial slowdown period, June 12 was also chosen because it precedes the Dia de Santo Antônio.

The first campaign that established the date in the country had the slogan: “It’s not just with kisses that love is proved!”. After the repercussion, other merchants began to join the date, which soon “fell into the Brazilian’s taste”. “It was a very cool idea because it is closely linked to the business. According to research, six out of ten Brazilians consider the date important,” says Antônio Fadiga, vice president of ABAP.

Today, Dia dos Namorados is the third most important celebratory date for Brazilian commerce, according to Sebrae.

Why is Santo Antônio considered the matchmaker saint?

Also known as Santo Antônio of Lisbon, where he was born in 1195, in Portugal, the saint has a particular connection with the church in Brazil, where three archdioceses and 11 dioceses consider him as a patron or titular, according to the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB).

The saint gained his reputation as a matchmaker because, on a certain occasion, he interceded for a young woman from Naples, in southern Italy, who wanted to get married but did not have the dowry value. By turning to the saint, he gave her a note that should be delivered to a merchant. In it, it was written that the worker needed to deliver to the woman silver coins equivalent to the weight of the note.

“Judging the weight of the paper ridiculous, the merchant accepted, but when he placed the note in one of the scale trays, he needed to put 400 silver shields on the other side,” said the priest in an interview with G1 in 2022. From then on, many faithful turn to Santo Antônio to arrange marriage, often adopting sympathies like turning the saint upside down, removing the baby Jesus from his arms, finding the medal or image in the cake, among other promises.

Origin of Valentine’s Day

In the United States and Europe, the similar celebration to Dia dos Namorados is Valentine’s Day (Dia de São Valentim), on February 14. There are several stories surrounding the origin of the date, but one of the most famous is that of a bishop, named Valentine, who, during the 3rd century, in the Roman Empire, performed marriages despite the emperor’s prohibition.

At the time, due to the wars, Emperor Claudius II canceled unions because he believed that single men were better soldiers. But Bishop Valentine continued to celebrate marriages and was sentenced to death when discovered.