Today is a curious coincidence day called Loving Day in the US and Dia dos Namorados (Lovers’ Day) in Brazil. The coincidence is an odd one because the “Loving” in Loving Day refers not to the act of loving, but to a married couple called Mildred and Richard Loving who were convicted and sentenced to prison for violating Virginia’s miscegenation laws. On this date in 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), which struck down laws banning interracial marriage as violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The decision was followed by an increase in interracial marriages in the U.S. and is remembered annually on Loving Day. It has been the subject of several songs and three movies, including the 2016 film Loving. Beginning in 2013, it was cited as precedent in U.S. federal court decisions holding restrictions on same-sex marriage in the United States unconstitutional, including in the 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges.
The case involved Mildred Loving, who was defined by Virginia state law as a woman of color, and her white husband Richard Loving. In 1958 they were sentenced to a year in prison for marrying each other. Their marriage violated Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which criminalized marriage between people classified as “white” and people classified as “colored”. The Lovings appealed their conviction to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which upheld it. They then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear their case.
On June 12, 1967, the Court issued a unanimous decision in the Lovings’ favor and overturned their convictions. The Court struck down Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law, ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States. Virginia had argued that its law was not a violation of the Equal Protection Clause because the punishment was the same regardless of the offender’s race, and thus it “equally burdened” both whites and non-whites. The Court found that the law nonetheless violated the Equal Protection Clause because it was based solely on “distinctions drawn according to race” and outlawed conduct namely, getting married that was otherwise generally accepted and which citizens were free to do.
Dia dos Namorados (Lovers’ Day) is celebrated on June 12 in Brazil, due to the date’s proximity to Saint Anthony’s Day on June 13. The date is celebrated in a manner similar to the way that Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14 in many other parts of the world, with gifts, romantic activities, decorations and festivities. The term “Dia dos Namorados” is also used in other Portuguese-speaking countries to refer to the Valentine’s Day.
Anthony of Padua, died on June 13, 1231, in Padua in Italy and, therefore, that date is the day on which he is especially venerated. In addition to having been canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church, Anthony of Padua is recognized as a general in the Brazilian Army. In Brazil, the Dia dos Namorados is celebrated on June 12, that is, Saint Anthony’s Eve. Saint Anthony is recognized for blessing young couples with happy and prosperous marriages. Celebrations for Dia dos Namorados in Brazil and those for Valentine’s Day in most other countries are similar. Typically, couples exchange romantic gifts, such as chocolates or flowers, and they may also share a date night. Additionally, beautifying home decorations are common as a part of the celebration. The day is festive, with colorful street decorations, parades and carnivals. Single women perform popular rituals, called simpatias, in order to find a good husband or boyfriend. In addition to prayer on the Eve, one might conceal a love letter in a pot of basil to pass to a prospective suitor.
Chocolate is, of course, called for on Lover’s Day, and the great Brazilian treat is the brigadeiro. It is a ball of special chocolate ganache rolled in something delectable, and is a staple sweet throughout Brazil. There are numerous videos on YouTube, so take your pick.