A Time to Celebrate Love and Friendship

Love and Friendship around the world, Valentine's Day, Hispanic Valentine Traditions

Love is in the air, in the U.S. and around the Hispanic world! Many of the world’s holidays are regional or national, but Valentine’s Day is one that’s observed around the globe. In Hispanic culture, this holiday of love and affection has some unique traditions and can take place anywhere from February to October.  To see some of the differences, check out this little article.

Regardless of the holiday’s name or timing, it’s always a fun time for showing our feelings to those close to us, including children! Here are some of the ways love and friendship are celebrated around the world and here at Spanish Schoolhouse.

Different Names but the Same Sentiment

Like in the US, Canada, and Europe, many Latin countries celebrate a holiday in February focused on romantic love between couples. February 14 is known as El Día de San Valentín in Mexico and Puerto Rico, and as El Día de Los Enamorados (Day of the Lovers) in Chile and Argentina.  Roses, chocolates, love poems, and moonlight serenades abound!

In other countries, the focus is broader and it’s more than just date night!  These celebrations also shine the spotlight of affection on grandparents, children, friends, neighbors, and even work colleagues!  

In Guatemala, Valentine’s Day is called El Día del Cariño (The Day of Affection).  All forms of love are acknowledged and people share sentimental gifts and greetings with friends, family, and co-workers of all ages. Senior citizens are a special focus of El Día del Cariño and they’re featured in a large, colorful “Old Love” parade. 

Guatemala Dia del Carino, Old Love Parade, love and friendship in guatemala
Elderly women dance during the Old Love Parade – held as part of the celebrations of Valentine’s day, on February 13, 2010 at Constitution Square in Guatemala City’s historic centre. AFP PHOTO/Johan ORDO-EZ (Photo credit should read JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

In many Latin countries, Valentine’s Day is known as El Día del Amor y la Amistad. Translated as “The Day of Love and Friendship,” this day includes many expressions of love!  Throughout Central and South America, friends, family, classmates, and co-workers exchange small gifts of love called cariñitos. In Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and El Salvador, gifts are often given anonymously as surprises. Children play a game similar to Secret Santa, drawing names and giving gifts to their amigo secreto (secret friend). Adults may simply give treats anonymously, as secret admirers! 

Speaking of Amistad (Friendship)…

It’s no secret that the Hispanic culture has a warm, festive, generous spirit and that friendship is highly valued!  Each stage of life holds a cause for celebration. Fiestas take place from an infant’s presentation or baptism to quinceañeras, confirmations, weddings, and grand celebrations of grandparents’ anniversaries.  Friends are included in each fiesta and are often treated like family. In fact, some of the closest relationships at these special events are among lifelong friends known as comadres and compadres. Compadrazgo means “co-parenthood” and describes the lifelong bond that parents have with their children’s godparents (who often are friends and not blood relatives).

Compadrazgo, Baptism, comadre, compadre, friendship, Mexican compadres

The Friendship Focus at SSH

The value of friendship is something we love to instill at Spanish Schoolhouse throughout the year. Each day our teachers work to support friendship and encourage kindness among students. One way we do this is through our “manners of the week” program, which teaches children to treat friends with respect, listen when others are talking, and take turns, etc. 

Some of the favorite books in our classrooms are about this theme.  Here are a couple of book lists focusing on friendship and kindness.  You may see some of these books in the Spanish versions on SSH bookshelves. Ask your kids if they recognize any favorites!  Valentine’s Day weekend might be a perfect time for a trip to the library for some cozy reading time together. 

And of course, our annual Valentine parties are a chance for the children to exchange sweet sentiments with their classmates and teachers. It is another opportunity to demonstrate the closeness and affection that Spanish Schoolhouse is known for.

Spanish Schoolhouse Valentine's Day celebration, love and friendship

Share the Love!

Celebrating love and friendship is central to Hispanic relationships.  This is part of the culture we delight in sharing with our students and their families.  If you’re interested in new ways to encourage friendships among young children, this Scholastic article has some good tips for each stage of development.

And however you celebrate Valentine’s Day, we encourage you to take a moment today to recognize and celebrate the people most important to you!

Amistad, Friendship, Valentine Card in Spanish

So, what do you think?