Valentine's Day, also called St. Valentine's Day, day (February 14) when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts. Although there were several Christian martyrs named Valentine, the day probably took its name from a priest who was martyred about ad 270 by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus." - Encyclopedia Britannica
Where did it come from?
Possibly starting as a pagan fertility festival, a variety of interesting Valentine's Day traditions have developed over time. Claudius the Cruel, Emperor or Roman in 270 AD is said to have cancelled all engagements and weddings as he thought love was why men did not want to go to battle. So a priest named "Valentine" performed marriages secretly until his capture. He then spent the rest of his life in prison. Perhaps this is where we get the secretiveness of the day from?
Hundreds of years ago in England children dressed up as adults on Valentine's Day and went singing holiday verses from door to door. And in Wales 25th January is the day of love. Celebrating Saint Dwynwen. As far back at as the 17th century saw men carving out love spoons for women they loved. Intricate designs or various patterns and symbols signified different meanings. Horseshoes for luck, keys for their hearts etc.
In the Middle Ages, people would draw names from a bowl to see who their Valentine would be. Then they would wear the name pinned to their sleeve for the next week. This is where we get the phrase "wearing your heart on your sleeve" from.
In more recent years, twisting the stem off an apple whilst going through the alphabet is popular in the playground. When it snaps off the corresponding letter is the start of the first name you will marry.
Roses for your Valentine Saxon's had the tradition of leaving giving on the door steps the night before with messages such as "A good morror to you Valentine". As for the gift of flowers on Valentine's Day, this probably dates to the early 1700s when Charles II of Sweden. He brought the Persian poetical art called "the language of flowers" to Europe.
Throughout the 18th century, floral lexicons were published. These allowed secrets to be exchanged with a lily or lilac. Entire conversations could take place in a bouquet of flowers. The more popular the flower, the more traditions and meanings have been associated with it. Roses, representing love, are probably the only flower with a meaning that is universally understood. Red Roses remain the most popular flowers although people are now starting to send their favourite. Tulips, lilies, daisies and carnations top this list.
However, it was the Victorian's who really made Valentine's Day big as cards were printed for the first time and became truly marketed. People began giving flowers, sending cards and giving sweets to express their feelings. You may be forgiven for thinking that it's more about buying than it is about love these days. Especially as gestures get bigger and the personal message is sometimes lost.
Sweets for my Sweet
Among early Valentine gifts were sweets, usually chocolates, in heart-shaped boxes. Companies like Morozoff Ltd helped introduce it to the world. They ran an ad campaign through a local English newspaper in Japan in 1936 aimed at foreigners used to celebrating the tradition. "For your Valentine, Make A Present of Morozoff' Fancy Box Chocolates". Introducing the western custom to Japan at the same time. For them this is a day to pamper the men. Hoping this gesture will be returned later in the year.
Today, just about anything goes for a Valentine's Day gift, depending on the recipient's tastes. If you're trying to move away from the flowers, you can always check out our Valentine range of delicious treats that they won't have seen before. You could also have a go at making something yourself. Whatever you decide to do, relax and enjoy it. And if you are single, give yourself a pamper day or go out with some friends. Valentines Day isn't for everyone but it is for cake!