It may be a big commercial deal today, but the tradition has actually been celebrated for centuries – but where did it start and why?
When is Valentine’s Day 2019?
The love-related festival is celebrated on February 14 annually, and it falls on a Thursday this year.
It’s widely believed that the ritual is held on the 14th because it is believed to be the date when Saint Valentine of Rome was made a martyr.
Religious accounts show that this figure was imprisoned after he performed weddings for soldiers that weren’t allowed to marry.
During his time in prison, he was reported to have healed the daughter of his jailer, before signing off a letter to her with “Your Valentine” before his execution.
In other Christian denominations, including the Eastern Orthodox Church, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on July 6 and July 30.
Who is Cupid?
Many people recognise the small baby with wings and he is often used as a symbol of love.
In classical mythology, the cheeky figure is known for being the son of love goddess Venus and the war god Mars.
His name is derived from the Latin Cupido, which means desire, but it wasn’t until the Renaissance period that Cupid was linked to Valentine’s Day.
Since the early modern period, the image of him drawing his bow to give the gift of love has often been seen as an icon of the February festival.
Why do we send poems, cards and quotes on Valentine's Day?
One theory is that when Valentine went to prison he sent a girl he had fallen in love with a card saying "Your Valentine," and some claim this is the inspiration behind it.
In the 14th century, the special date quickly became a time where couples would show their love for each other by giving flowers, sweets and greeting cards.
The tradition of poetry was also popular, which would be expressed in valentines given to your lover.
It did not take long for the ritual to spread from early modern England, as the customs were adopted by other countries.
Where did Valentine’s Day traditions come from?
Even though the tale of Saint Valentine has been re-told since 270AD Rome, it wasn’t associated with romance until the 14th century.
During the time of the Father of English Literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, the tradition of courtly love became popular.
In his work Parlement of Foules, Chaucer wrote: “For this was on St Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh to choose his mate”.
Other poets cemented the tradition by penning verses about Valentine’s in this period, including John Gower and Otton de Grandson.
Still searching for the perfect gift? These 15 Valentine's present ideas are all under £20.
Treating yourself to some new lingerie has become another tradition to help spark love in the bedroom.
However, there are are plenty of things you should steer clear of – if you're not sure, why not stick to some heartfelt romantic verse instead?
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