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The History of Valentine’s Day


Valentine’s Day maybe a commercial incentive to buy your loved one chocolate, jewellery or flowers, but the day actually dates back to the pre Christian era. In Rome, the 13th, 14th, and 15th February was celebrated as a pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia. The idea is that young men would strip off nude and using goat skin or dog skin to create whips and spank the backsides of young women in a hope to improve fertility.

AD 197

Christians then became attached to this date. A Christian known as Valentine of Terni was martyred during the Emperor Aurelian reign. There is not much that was uncovered about the Valentines life except that he was made a bishop and died soon after. He was imprisoned and tortured then beheaded in Rome by the Romans for his faith and apparently died on 14 February.

AD 289

Another Christian is martyred the Valentine of Rome. He was arrested for giving aid to prisoners and while in jail he was said to have cured a prisoner’s daughter of blindness and thus converting his faith. It is then said that he fell in love with the daughter and wrote notes to her saying “from your valentine”.

There is other evidence that suggests during this period that the emperor banned weddings as he thought it would improve the soldier’s performance and that the Valentine of Rome was arrested for carrying out secret weddings. Legend has it that he also died on the 14th February.

AD 496

The pope declared the 14th February to be St Valentine’s Day which at the time was a Christian feast festival.

AD 1601

St Valentine’s day had then become popular and enforced by the mention of it in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,/All in the morning betime,/And I a maid at your window,/To be your Valentine.”

Mid-18th Century

This is the Valentine’s Day that we know began to emerge. Cards started to be sent between loved ones and this is the era that “The Young Man’s Valentine Writer” was published. This book suggested rhymes and messages for use in cards and notes on Valentine’s Day.


Over 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent worldwide making it the second only to Christmas.

Source: the Telegraph