In much of Latin America what we know as Valentines Day is known as ‘El Dia del Amor y La Amistad’. In Colombia it’s no different, except that when we’re all celebrating on February 14th, those crazy Colombianos will only be doing something special if they happen to have bagged themselves a foreign partner.
Valentine’s Day in Colombia, or as it should be known, Amor Y Amistad, is celebrated on the 3rd weekend of September and is approached with a similar fervour as the Colombians approach Halloween and Christmas, which is, to say the very least, whole-heartedly. Get ready with the wine, the flowers and while you’re at it why not learn some Carlos Vives songs, just for extra points?
For the entire weekend, and the weeks before, hearts adorn the bars, restaurants, shops and even houses you visit in honour of Amor Y Amistad. It’s not unusual for places to hold special promotions, such as women drinking free (good for all you chicas out there), or two-for-one meals. All in all, it’s pretty difficult to escape the celebration, and just as well because the Latin Americans have done it right. Unlike in the UK where people have largely turned against Valentine’s Day except for as an excuse to go out for a quick meal and maybe send a card, Colombians celebrate a great deal since, as those of you familiar with Spanish will be aware, Amor Y Amistad means love and friendship, meaning no lonely hearts peering through restaurant windows longingly.
Nope, instead it’s all about toasting to your friends with a cup of aguardiente, a bottle of beer and a nice ‘parcero’. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have had a marriage in Colombia, or have a Colombian girl or boy on your arm, that’s great. But it’s not the be all and end all.
So maybe this Valentine’s Day, instead of coupling off, why don’t we in the UK take a heads up from those lovely Latinos and celebrate Valentine’s Day together. With everyone.