What is Love and Friendship Day in Colombia?
In a nutshell Love and Friendship Day (Dia de amor y amistad) is just another St. Valentine’s Day and it is celebrated this Saturday, September 15.
Who was Saint Valentine?
Legend has it that Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who was beaten then beheaded by Roman Emperor Claudius II for defying the mandated rule of prohibiting soldiers from marrying. According to legend he was martyred on February 14th. Very little is known about this Valentine character. The feast of St. Valentine of February 14 was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among all those “… whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.” As Gelasius implies, nothing was then known about his life.
Catholic church records address three other Saint Valentines related with the February 14th date. One was a Roman priest, another the bishop of Interamna (modern Terni) both buried along the Via Flaminia on the outskirts of Rome, at different distances from the city. The third was said to be a saint who suffered on the same day with a number of companions in the Roman province of Africa, for whom nothing else is known.
So not much is known about the actual person, but we do know that Saint Valentine is the patron saint of affianced couples (fiances), against fainting, bee keepers, happy marriages, love, plague, and epilepsy. Obviously we focus on love.
Why is Love and Friendship Day (Valentine’s Day Part 2) Celebrated in September?
It is said that Love and Friendship Day was created in Colombia 1969 to boost the economy. Colombia has many holidays throughout the year. Colombian’s usually travel outside of their city to small towns, shop, spend time with family, etc. on holidays. This helps the economy, but in September there are no holidays, thus we have Love and Friendship Day on September 16.
The celebration date was created for money, so what? Colombian’s are loving, kind, and generous people, only a bitter, loveless grouch would complain about a day where you celebrate love and friendship.
What to do on Love and Friendship Day (Dia del amor y amistad)
I’ve lived here in Medellin for over 6 years now and have been through Love and Friendship Day enough to know what is customary. In the U.S. we usually reserve Valentine’s Day for romance. I mean, yeah, when I was kid I got chocolates and candy from my mom, and at school we passed out Valentine’s Day cards. But as an adult it is usually regarded as a romantic holiday. Here in Medellin, and perhaps in all of Colombia, Love and Friendship Day is great because it is for everyone.
You do not have to be in a relationship to celebrate love and friendship day.
I’ve had groups of friends over for drinks and dinner, and maybe a game of Parqués or Monopoly. Since it lands on a Saturday, going out to a disco or a bar is acceptable.
My favorite thing about Love and Friendship Day in Medellin is playing “amigo secreto,” secret friend, and the “endulzadas.” Amigo secreto is pretty easy to understand. You put all of your friend’s or coworker’s names in a hat and you take turns drawing names. The name that you draw…that’s your secret friend and on September 16th, in front of everyone, you must reveal your secret friend and give him/her a gift.
What is an endulzada? This is an addition to the secret friend game. Basically, the verb endulzar means to sweeten, but in context it means to spoil someone with candy. So every day leading up to September 16 you have to bring a wrapped candy, usually in a black bag, to the person in charge of handing out the gifts. You designate a neutral spot to place the “endulzadas” so as to not spoil the secret.
What to buy/do for Love and Friendship Day.
I usually buy my female friends candy, chocolates, and if they are really special, flowers. All of this is very inexpensive. There are a ton of candy stores around downtown that sell candy at discounted prices, they make a killing on this day. Also, flowers, I cannot believe how cheap flowers are here, I can get a bouquet of 24 roses for 8,000 pesos at La Placita de las Flores, it’s awesome. I am not saying that I get all my female friends roses, just the special ones.
On the occasions where I’ve drawn a guy as my secret friend, chocolate bars and candy is acceptable, but for me, a bit too weird. I always opt to get them something else, like a watch, a key-chain, coffee mug, trinket, t-shirt, etc.
Let’s get back to the women though. If you’re going to invite a girl out to a restaurant make sure to call and ask for a reservation; this day is usually busy, especially at good restaurants around the city. Some places do not take reservations, so you must get there earlier. Do not expect your date to get there early, you will probably have to get there alone to hold the table.
Have a plan! Do not just wing it. Most girls like it when a guy has a plan. It shows that you really thought about the day and that she is special. Dinner and dancing is a big hit in Medellin. I usually do dinner, cocktails (at one of my favorite 2 for 1 cocktail places in Parque Lleras), and then dancing. Love and Friendship Day does not have to be limited to just one day out of the year. Like I said before, flowers, chocolate, and candy are so inexpensive here that you can do this at least once a month.
Where to buy gifts in Medellin?
Medellin has plenty of malls, these are the big ones:
Malls aren’t the only place to buy cool gifts. For example there are nice little stores in Provenza like Blend, where you’ll find unique, locally produced clothes, shoes and accessories.
You might also want to go shopping downtown. There are many stores in around el hueco. Many stores downtown will also have ready made gift baskets, which may be convenient.
Here are some of my favorite places to take a date:
Halong Vietnamita – I really love this place. The Pho is good enough, but what’s awesome about it is the location/atmosphere. The whole restaurant is outdoors and they have a full bar. Their house vodka drink is great and you should definitely have the slow cooked ribs.
Cafe Zorba – This place is an all vegetarian pizza place. The atmosphere is great, sometimes will have live music and prices are not so high considering that it’s located in El Poblado.
San Carbon – Great steak and good wine. The do have cocktails and other options other than steak, but it’s a steak house so you might as well get the good stuff.
El Graspo De Uva – This place is one of my favorite pizza/Italian food spots in Medellin. They have a brick oven and bake a mean pie. The place is small so make a reservation.
El Museo Castillo Medellin – This is a very romantic place and this year they’re doing a picnic for $40,000 per person.
These are restaurants to take a date you want to impress.
Make Comments and Suggestions Below
I love to get ideas, let me know what your plans are in the comments below. Don’t be shy, let us know what you’re plans are.
About the writer – Andrew Macia
Hello, my name is Andrew Macia and I am the founder of the Medellin Buzz. I am an advanced level English teacher, and I also run a digital marketing company here in Medellin.
I love Colombian, and Medellin has been my home since 2010. I like to write and I want to give back to the community. This is the best way I know how. I hope you enjoy my blog!
About the Medellin Buzz
I started the Medellin Buzz as a resource for my English as a foreign language students. A site where they could read about their city in English, that wasn’t boring. It slowly turned into a personal blog and hub for information for people discovering Medellin. I check comments frequently, so feel free to leave your comment and/or questions below.