Brazilians don’t generally celebrate Valentine’s Day like we do in Canada. St. Valentine is still associated with couples and romance and love, but oddly, his feast day is not celebrated nearly as much in Brazil. Instead, they celebrate Dia Dos Namorados (kind of “couples day”) on June 12th. This celebration is still associated with a patron saint of couples, Saint Anthony, whose feast day is June 13th (so the holiday is essentially “St. Anthony’s Eve”, like “All Hallow’s Eve” is Halloween. He is supposed to bless young couples for a happy and properous marriage.
The holiday is very similar to the Valentine’s day in Canada, exchanging tokens of love such as letters, flowers, or chocolate. However, it is not viewed as simply a day for the woman – both people in the relationship are to be celebrated. Women are expected to do things for their men as well, and often actually do more (traditional gender roles being stronger in Brazil, its not unusual for women to be more sentimental). This is a gift-giving holiday, so presents are also generally expected by the couples. Many restaurants also do special meals, and packages associated with this special day.
Personally, I do like the nature of the Brazilian Holiday better than the Canadian, as Valentines in Canada has, unfortunately, lost some of the mutual celebration aspects. It is supposed to be a celebration of the relationship, I don’t understand how that can ever only include just half of the couple – although much of our media might make you think otherwise.
Oddly, there is very little influence from North America in Brazil for this holiday. I was in Brazil for Valentine’s Day in February, and there was nothing special in most stores, almost no mention of it anywhere, except by the other Canadians I was with. So, if you are visiting in February, make sure to bring any Valentine’s Day cards with you, because last minute purchases will not be an option.
As for me, I have to plan four months in advance, or I’m stuck trying to find Valentine’s day cards in June for Minha Namorada…