We all know that Valentine’s Day is a celebration of romance and love. However, the origins of this day are not quite so loving! It is widely believed that the name comes from a Roman priest in the third century AD. Emperor Claudius II had outlawed marriage as he believed single men without a wife or family were better soldiers. The priest, Valentine, thought this was unfair and so performed marriages in secret and was imprisoned for his actions.
In this popular story it is said that Valentine fell in love with the daughter of his jailer and he signed a letter to her ‘from your Valentine’.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the 14th of February each year. It’s a day lovingly celebrated around the world, often with an exchange of gifts, or romantic gesture.
The origins of Valentine’s Day aren’t crystal clear, but we do know the ancient Romans celebrated a spring festival on the 15th of February and the Christian Calendar moved the holiday to the 14th to cherish Saint Valentine at the same time. The love story is believed to have followed in the Middle Ages where people would recite romantic poems in honour of the day.
It has long been the tradition on Valentine’s Day to give and receive gifts, going back as far as Saxon England. It wasn’t until much later that greetings cards were introduced, and the tradition of anonymous Valentine’s card or note became customary. In Victorian England, the cards were incredibly delicate, with lace paper and ribbons often with hidden panels which housed secret notes. It is also believed that in the Middle Ages, young men and women would choose names from a bowl, and this name would be their Valentine, which they would wear on their sleeves. There are many customs and traditions surrounding this romantic day, however, the most common and most practised is that of gift giving.
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