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Some time back my company (Eagle) made a more formal commitment to diversity, which has naturally been a part of our culture all along. We developed an official policy, I established myself as the champion of the cause, we have diversity champions and we provide ongoing diversity training to our staff.

One of the other “neat ideas” that our HR manager came up with (thank you Breigh) was a regular email to all of our staff explaining different holidays and traditions associated with various cultures … as they become relevant.

The latest email provides information about Valentines Day, plus a couple of Canada specific holidays … Louis Riel day and Family Day. I thought I would post that information here for everyone to enjoy.

Every February 14thall across the country and the world, candy, flowers , cards and gifts are exchanged between loved ones all in the name of St. Valentine.

There are many legends of the way that Saint Valentines Day originated. Many date back to as early as 270 A.D. One legend goes like this. the ruler of the time, Emperor Claudius II, thought unmarried soldiers would make better soldiers, and so he forbade them to marry. A bishop named Valentine who was stationed at the Roman Empire at that time took pity on the soldiers and young lovers and began to perform secret marriages. He was soon found out and jailed. Another part of the legend states that while in jail, Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. Just before his death, he sent her a note and signed it “from your Valentine,” An expression that is stilled used today.

After his death, Valentine became a Patron Saint. Some considered him the spiritual overseer of an annual festival in which young Romans would distribute cards of affection to those they wished to see. The festival was held each February 14. Some valentine cards can be found in museums that date back to 1415.

Today, Valentines Day has become one of the most popular holidays. After Christmas, it is the largest card-sending holiday of the year. Common symbols of Valentines Day today are hearts, cupid, roses, teddy bears, and bow and arrows. Cupid with bows and arrows represent Roman mythology. Cupid was the son of Venus, the goddess of love. The shot of the arrow would strike the unsuspecting desired person or god, making him fall in love.

Louis Riel was a Canadian politician, a founder of the province of Manitoba and a leader of the Métis people of the Canadian prairies. He led two resistance movements against the Canadian government. He sought to preserve the rights, culture and heritage of the Métis. In the province of Manitoba, Louis Riel Day celebrates Riel’s life and achievements and is observed on the third Monday of February.

On September 26, 2007 Manitoba passed a bill establishing the third Monday in February as a statutory holiday; Louis Riel Day. In other areas of Canada, specifically Toronto, Louis Riel Day is observed in November as this was the anniversary month of the execution of Louis Riel in 1885.

Family Day is celebrated in the provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan. This holiday falls on the third Monday in February and celebrates the importance of families and family life. It is meant as a day where the whole family can take part in activities together.

In the provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan most people have the day off work and schools are generally closed. Most businesses and organizations are also closed

Family Day was first held in Alberta in 1990. It was supposed to reflect the values of family and home that were important to the pioneers who founded Alberta. It gave the workers an opportunity to spend more time with their families. Family Day was introduced in Saskatchewan in 2007 and Ontario in 2008. One of the main reasons for introducing Family Day was that there was a long period when there were no holidays from New Year’s Day until Good Friday.


In Australia the first Tuesday of November is known as Family and Community Day and in South Africa, the day after Easter Sunday is Family Day.