The History of Valentine's Day

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The History of Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is intended to be a day all about love. Showing that someone special just how much you care by sending them a card, or a gift, taking them out on a date or just spending quality time with that person. As we say goodbye to Christmas, card shops are keen to remind us that the most romantic day of the year is just around the corner. Shops are filled with cuddly teddy bears, huge boxes of chocolates and dozens of red roses, but where did it all start?

The history of Valentine’s Day and the story of its patron saint are shrouded in mystery. Valentine is believed to be martyred; an old legend suggests that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine believe that this act was an injustice and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. Soon Valentine was found out and Claudius ordered that he be put to death.  

Other stories suggest that Valentine was imprisoned and he sent the first valentine greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl. Before he died it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed ‘From your Valentine’ an expression that is still used to this day. Although the true story of Valentine remains a mystery, all of the urban stories emphasize Valentine’s appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and most importantly a romantic figure in history.  

It is believed that Valentine died in the middle of February and as the French and English believed that 14th February was the beginning of the mating season for birds, the idea of 14th being devoted to love was born. Pre 1900, friends and lovers exchanged small tokens of affection by sending hand written notes and poems. However by the 19th century printed cards began to replace written letters, this was a time where direct expressions of one’s feelings were discouraged therefore, printed cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions. Today, approximately one billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent worldwide, making it the second largest card giving holiday after Christmas. 

Whether you enjoy Valentine’s Day or not, it’s the ideal time to show that someone just how much they mean to you. That could either be with a card, a gesture, or something very simple like saying ‘I love you’. If you are struggling for gifts or need some inspiration on how to impress your lover then take a look at our romantic themed section on the website and our three course dinner recipe – it's full of ideas on how to woo that someone special. 

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