It’s that time of the year again when red roses sell out, you can’t get a dinner reservation, and it’s near impossible to find good a box of chocolate in your local grocery store. Yep, Valentine’s Day is upon us once again. Here’s everything you need to know about the universal day of love.
The truth is, we’ll probably never know the exact history of St. Valentine’s Day, now, generally, called Valentine’s Day, which dates back many hundreds of years.
February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, but who was St. Valentine and how did he lend his name to the universal day of love?
It is believed St Valentine, a Roman priest possibly named Valentinus, was a martyred Christian saint who, according to The Dictionary of Christianity, was imprisoned for “succouring persecuted Christians.” Other Christian records indicate he performed clandestine weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry.
Another tale, whose origin is lost to the mists of time suggests that while Valentius was in prison, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius and, having grown fond of the daughter, he signed his last correspondence to her, ‘Your Valentine.’
Whomever St Valentine really was, his feast day is celebrated on February 14 in a number of Christian churches and, today, February 14 is better known as Valentine’s Day, a day to commemorate romantic love.
The modern-day connection to all things love and romance is believed to have begun in the fourteenth century when English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem about Valentine. He wrote:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day,
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
Translated into modern English, these two lines say: “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”
They were written honour the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia.
By the 18th century, Valentine’s Day was firmly established as a day of romance, particularly in England, and three centuries later, it has evolved into a day one which lovers express their utmost affection for each other, usually by presenting flowers, sweets, cards and, of course, wedding proposals!
Who celebrates it?
Valentine’s Day customs developed in early England and by the twentieth century had almost gone global. Of course, now, the day is celebrated almost universally, so much so, countries such as China and South Korea are said to spend the most money on Valentine’s Day gifts.
Valentine’s Day today
Continuing in the tradition of love, Valentine’s Day has become one of the most popular days on which to get married and it is the second most popular day to buy gifts, with Christmas being the first.
Flowers, chocolate, and even even greeting cards, typically sell out days before February 14.