Do Jews celebrate Valentine’s Day? Is there a Jewish holiday similar to Valentine's Day?

Answered by
Rabbi Victor S. Appell

The origins of Valentine’s Day are linked to a saint, though the connections are dubious and even the Catholic Church has removed Valentine's Day from its calendar. Some would say there is no reason why Jews cannot celebrate Valentine's Day, though others might argue that, as a holiday rooted in Christian tradition, it would be a bit peculiar.

In making your decision, it is important to know that rabbinic opinion from all streams of Judaism have been inclined to allow for the celebration of secular holidays that do not go against Jewish values. Judaism certainly believes in celebrating love – whether that love is between spouses, a caregiver and child, relatives, or good friends.

A little-known holiday is Tu B'Av (the fifteenth of Av – which falls in mid to late summer). Following the reflective nature of Tishah B'Av and preceding Elul, a month of preparation for the High Holidays, Tu B'Av is a day marked by dancing and courtship. Ancient traditions note that on this day, young women dressed in white went out into the fields to dance and were followed by young men.

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