As the stores fill with panic-buyers, clutching heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, teddy bears and bouquets of red roses, a tradition begun by the Victorians who believed they were the favourite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. After choosing the gifts, they almost forget what some consider the most important part: a heart-adorned card for them to write all of their deepest feelings in. Or, if they like to play it cool, to write something more simple, like ‘To Kelly, from Matt’ in. Valentines Day is heavily commercialised and, despite being only two months away from Christmas, it is filled with expectation and extravangant displays of love.
THE STORY OF VALENTINE’S DAY
Valentine’s Day is a day for love, light and happiness, for couples and singles alike thanks to Saint Valentine, a Roman saint who was martyred and buried in Christianity on (you guessed it!) 14th February. There was more than one saint with the same surname around the time period so there are conflicting stories due to records being mixed up, but the most famous story is the one that has inspired Valentine’s day to still be celebrated centuries later.
St Valentine, a priest from Rome, was imprisoned after secretly marrying Christian couples. He believed that love was love, no matter the religion. After falling in love with the jailer’s daughter, he wrote her a heart-felt love letter and signed it ‘from your Valentine’. It wasn’t a mystery: she knew exactly who her Valentine was, but you might remember gifting anonymous cards when you were younger. The Victorians believed that it was bad luck to sign Valentine’s cards with their names and it became a tradition in England to gift anonymous cards and presents during the middle of the 18th century. Since then, we have allowed Saint Valentine’s display of love to continue by gifting glittery red cards reading ‘To My Valentine’. After his commemoration, a feast was held and we have continued this too, with restaurants selling-out all of their tables and takeaways being filled with orders across the world on this special day.
Around a billion cards are exchanged every year, many of which feature flying images of Cupid, the god of love, desire, attraction and affection: our favourite little bow and arrow wielding figure that is associated with Valentine’s day. To be struck by Cupid’s arrow is to fall in love for a lifetime. And to gift chocolates and out-of-season strawberries is to share the love with yourself or someone special.