The History of Valentine’s Day

Feb 14 2022

The History of Valentine’s Day

Every February 14, many celebrate love by exchanging flowers, chocolates, restaurant invitations, declarations of love, and sexy little gifts. 

But where does this tradition come from? That’s what we are exploring in this article.

Roman Origins

Several theories about the origins of Valentine's Day have emerged over the centuries. 

One popular theory is of a saint named Valentine who lived in the 3rd century in Rome under Emperor Claudius II.

Emperor Claudius II prohibited marriages so that more men would be sent to war. But Saint Valentine united couples in secret. 

When the deception came to light, the emperor imprisoned Valentine and condemned him to death. 

The saint was canonized in 1496, after the fall of the Roman Empire, thus becoming the patron saint of fiancés and lovers. 

This is how February 14 became Valentine's Day. 

The pagan festival

Another theory suggests that Valentine's Day was created to replace a pagan holiday from the time of ancient Rome: the Lupercalia. 

Organized around February 15 in honor of Lupercus, the god of fertility, the holiday began with the sacrifice of an animal.

Then men would run in the streets in search of young girls. And if they caught them, they would rape them. 

Their mission was to promote reproduction and the creation of new couples. 

This tradition was banned in 494, and replaced by the feast of purification, today called Candlemas, as well as the feast of fertility and love, called Valentine's Day. 

England tradition

The origins of Valentine's Day in England dates back to the 14th century. 

At the time, the English thought that February 14 was the day when birds mated.  Lovers would exchange love tickets, called "valentines" on that day. 


The first Valentine's Letter in England can be seen in the British Museum. It was sent by Charles, Duke of Orléans when he was a prisoner of war in England in the 15th century. 


The common folk in England began to send their own "Valentine's Day card" in the 1600s. Then at the beginning of the 18th century, the first "Happy Valentine's Day" cards were produced in factories. 


Valentines Day today

In the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated between lovers, but it is also common for a gift to be exchanged between grandchildren and grandparents, or between friends. 

 

Did you know that Americans give their dog a gift? Or that people exchange gifts with their colleagues?

 

Children also offer presents to their school teachers during Valentine’s Day!

Different ways of celebrating Valentine’s Day all over the world

Colombia

In Colombia, Valentine's Day is not celebrated on February 14. This event is considered "an American holiday" and thus the country does not celebrate it.

 But in September, Colombians celebrate the festival of love and friendship on the 3rd Saturday of the month.

South Korea

In South Korea, there are two Valentine's Days! On February 14, women offer chocolate to their lovers.

 A month later, on March 14, it is the men’s turn to offer a gift to the women in their lives.

Japan

The celebration of Valentine's Day in Japan is similar to South Korea. On February 14, it is up to the woman to "declare her feelings" by offering chocolates.

 March 14 is what is called "White day". Men who received romantic chocolates on Valentine's Day reciprocate by giving a gift on March 14. If the man doesn’t offer anything, it's because the feelings aren't reciprocated! 

Philippines

Philippines has the most amazing  Valentine’s Day tradition. 

On Valentine's Day, couples get married...as a group! Yes, yes in a group. 

This mainly happens because couples do not have the means to afford a classic ceremony. 

So February 14 is the day when there are the most group weddings. The record ? 164. And all financed by the government.!

Forbidden in some countries


The celebration of Valentine's Day is prohibited or threatened in around thirty countries. These are mostly countries that consider Valentine's Day to be a “pagan Christian holiday”. 

 

This has long been the case in Saudi Arabia. In Iran, the festival is very popular, but associations of traders expressly prohibit the sale of red heart-shaped balloons in February.

 

Happy Valentines!

 No matter where Valentine's Day originated from, we can all agree that it provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate love!

 

I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day.