The most romantic day of the year, filled with romance, candlelit dinners, flowers, chocolates, teddy bears and grand gestures, is without at doubt, Valentines Day, February 14. It’s a day universally synonymous with pure romance, where men and women alike are encouraged to buy extravagant gifts to show their love for one another, as well as an opportunity to brag on social media with images of the elaborate gifts, fancy dinners and well dressed dates. For those without long term partners, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to approach that handsome workmate and see if a spark could become something more substantial. Today, Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days of the year for retail stores, as the pressure to quantify love through materials goods grows stronger.
The history of Valentine’s Day is one of a different nature however, and when compared to the traditions, culture celebrations and modern expectations, bares little resemblance. While today Valentine's Day is focused primarily on romance and love, its history has very different roots.
Valentine's Day flowers make for a special day.
It is said that the Romans celebrated from 13 to 15 February, by sacrificing animals in the nude, and whipping each other during the feast of Lupercalia to encourage fertility. One story tells it that Emperor Claudius II is reported to have killed two men named Valentine during this period in the 3rd Century, making martyrs of them, and sparking the Catholic Church to celebrate their sacrifice with Saint Valentine’s Day. Another story describes Valentinus as a priest, while another still describes a man performing marriages after they were outlawed for young men, who was murdered as a result. A more popular legend tells the tale of a man named Valentine assisting Christians trying to escape Roman prisons.
Though it is said that Valentine’s Day takes place in February to commemorate the death of Saint Valentine, the celebrations may in fact have been combined with the feast of Lupercalia to eliminate the traditionally pagan festival, and to solidify the celebrations as Christian in nature. Pope Gelasius combined Saint Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia in the 5th Century, and although it now had Christian undertones, it was still full of drinking and debauchery.
Many years later, literary figures like Shakespeare ‘romanticized’ the day, and it started to grow in popularity, eventually inspiring the retail industry to generate Valentine's Day cards in the 1800s, marking the beginning of the February 14 as a consumer holiday.
These days, Valentine’s Day sales exceed $17.6 billion, and romantic gestures have become more elaborate and indulgent. Current trends show a move towards romantic weekends away, jewellery and dinner reservations, while classic gifts such as chocolate, stuffed animals, a dozen red roses and other bouquets of flowers, are still a popular choice.
Make sure to arrange for flowers delivered US before the big day!
Valentine’s Day around the world
Although Valentine’s Day has undoubtedly changed, there are some traditions that seem to be common around the world, including gift giving, romantic gestures and expressions of love. As to be expected, however, many countries have their own customs and traditions for celebrating Valentine’s Day; some of which might surprise you.
On February 14, Japanese women present men with chocolates to express their affection, while the men return the gesture with gifts of their own on 14 March, one month later. These gifts are often significantly higher in value, and can get up to three times the cost! This day is known as White Day, but is very similar to the celebrations in America.
Roses and chocolates from Roses Only make a fabulous pair.
Valentine’s Day in Slovenia is different to the celebrations in the U.S., in that it is tied to agriculture, and marks the start of spring. While some commence starting work back in the fields, others choose this significant location as the place in which they will propose to their partner.
Known as La Festa Degli Innamorati, the celebrations in Italy have a rather artistic flair, with young lovers showing their passion throughout the year by clipping padlocks to railings and bridges. The keys are always thrown away.
Valentine’s Day only began being properly enjoyed after the fall of the USSR, so it is quite a new tradition with no historical customs. As such, sending flowers, enjoying a romantic meal and exchanging kind words is commonplace, much like the Valentine’s Day enjoyed in America.
Finland takes a different perspective of Valentine's Day, celebrating friendships and platonic relationships as opposed to relationships of love. Gifts are exchanged on the dubbed 'Friendship Day'.
If you're looking for something extra, spoil your partner with flowers and candles.
In Wales, it isn’t Saint Valentine who is celebrated, but rather, Saint Dwynwen, a Welsh patron saint of love. On January 25, the customary gift is a love spoon, given as a token of affection and carved with detailed designs. Spoons are also given during other special occasions, such as anniversaries and births.
In Nepal, Valentine’s Day is considered a holy day for Christians, though for most people, still represents passion and love. Gifts are exchanged and it too is a popular day for marriage proposals.
Unlike the common Valentine's Day gift of the US, the stunning red rose, in Denmark it is the snowdrop that has become the popular flower of choice. For women, if they receive a card containing kind words or a funny poem from an anonymous suitor, they must guess the identity of the sender in order to receive a special Easter treat later in the year!