The strange history of Valentine’s day: how and why we celebrate love
Valentine’s Day is fast-approaching, and love is in the air. You may have met the love of your life or you may be single, but these days Valentine’s is a reason to celebrate love in all its forms. Are you planning a romantic day with your long-term partner, or a Zoom party with family and friends? It might even be an excuse to treat yourself to something special.
Whatever your situation, we’re here to give you the run-down on everything Valentine-related. In this article you’ll learn about the following:
- When is Valentine’s Day celebrated?
- Who was St. Valentine and who invented Valentine’s Day?
- A short history of Valentine’s Day
- Valentine’s Day today
- What is there to do on Valentine’s Day this year?
- Perfect gifts for Valentine’s Day
So, let’s cozy and learn about this romantic holiday.
When is Valentine’s Day celebrated?
Valentine’s Day is celebrated every year on February 14th. This year, we’re lucky that it falls on a Sunday, giving us the whole day to spoil our loved ones (or ourselves!).
But, have you ever stopped and asked yourself: Why do we celebrate it?
Who was St. Valentine and who invented Valentine’s Day?
The internet is full of ideas about why we celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s most commonly thought to be named after “Saint Valentine”, dating back as early as the 5th century. However, this is also quite complicated as there were quite a few different saints named St. Valentines.
To make it even more confusing, none of them were really associated with romance - although some did seem to be responsible for performing secret marriages.
Some people also think Valentine’s Day might date back to a rather risqué Roman holiday called Lupercalia. Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15th and possibly involved women writing their names on clay tablets that were drawn by men at random.
However, our modern-day celebrations are quite different. The romantic Valentine’s Day that we now know is much more likely to originate in the Middle Ages (also known as the Dark Ages) with the British poet, Geoffrey Chaucer.
To make a long story short: Chaucer was the first person to link romance to “Saint Valentine’s Day”. In the late 14th century, he wrote a poem, called "Parliament of Fowls" that includes the line:
“For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate.” Romantic, right?
The idea of romance between knights and noble ladies was becoming a theme, and in the 1400’s it became normal for the knights to write (often tragic) love poems for the lady they were in love with.
It wasn’t until 1537, when King Henry VIII declared February 14th a holiday that it became official.
A short history of Valentine’s Day
The word “valentine” started becoming popular as a way of describing a lover in the 15th century. But it really became popular in the 18th century when paper Valentine’s Cards started to be mass-produced. It was then that Valentine’s Day as we know it was born.
While it’s mainly associated with positive feelings, in 1929 in Chicago, a gang, organised by Al Capone killed seven men on February 14th. It became known as The Valentine’s Day Massacre and was a huge part of America’s Prohibition history. Less romantic, but still interesting.
Valentine’s Day today
Valentine’s Day is traditionally celebrated with cards, but that soon started to include gifts like flowers and chocolates.
Over the years it has become more commercial, but the great news is that it can really be whatever you want it to be.
If you’re happily partnered up, it can be a great excuse to spend some quality time together, doing something different. If you’re single, maybe it’s a good opportunity to involved in the ‘Galentine’s’ spin off and celebrate your female friends. Or treat yourself to a day of self-love and focusing on yourself.
Another option is to simply share your appreciation with family members, colleagues, or maybe spend time with your pets.
Four fun Valentine’s facts:
- 10% of all marriage proposals happen on the 14th February
- Oliver Cromwell banned Valentine’s Day celebrations in 1653. In 1660, Charles II took the throne and revived it.
- Pet owners in the UK spend £200m on Valentine’s gifts for their furry friends
- Every year around 25m Valentine’s cards are sent in the UK
What is there to do on Valentine’s Day this year?
Valentine’s Day in lockdown (especially in February, brrrr!) isn’t perhaps how you would like to be spending the day. However, there are lots of great ideas to make it special, even if going out for a romantic meal isn’t one of them.
- Why not wrap up warm and go on a romantic local walk. If you’re feeling especially creative, you could even design a local scavenger hunt for your loved one, involving special memories the two of you share.
- If you’re feeling blue, this Tropical Staycation kit is a great idea! You’ll forget about the snow in no time
- In the UK, some options are: a romantic candlelit concert , a special Valentine’s Day show by Hamlet Comedy Club , or a more risqué performance by House of Burlesque .
- Elsewhere, you could sign up for aprivate virtual tour of the Champagne region of France , an at home spa experience or a virtual cooking class .
- And, for any singletons who have yet to reach the point of Zoom or dating fatigue, this online speed dating event is something completely different.
- Departures , Eventbrite and Design my Night all have some great ideas for a locked down Valentine’s Day, wherever you are, as well as general date ideas if you want to keep the romance going for a little longer.
Perfect Gifts for Valentine’s Day
Do you want to surprise your loved one with a gift or a gesture and still don’t know what to give them? Don’t worry, Here are some of our top ideas
- Create a photobook of some of your favourite memories
- Send your loved one a unique gif using this year’s Valentine’s Day Google Doodle [see The Scotsman for more information]
- Use Visit England to choose a voucher for a ‘get away’ once lockdown restrictions are lifted
- Do a search for local businesses that you can support during this time and buy your loved one something unique
Finally, of course, there is a good chance you’ll be overseas and apart from your loved one this Valentines. We know how hard that can be, so don’t forget that money transfer is always a great option. We’ve made it quick and easy so you can start sending today.