Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day on February 14 is a global holiday that traditionally celebrates romantic love. The holiday has taken a secular form in recent years and is celebrated in almost all countries worldwide.

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate true love. How will you celebrate your valentine?


It is one of the most commercially important holidays of the year. On Valentine’s Day, people celebrate their loved ones by exchanging Valentine’s Day cards and chocolates; gifts; flowers, especially red roses. The evening is also popular for date nights.

Today, Valentine’s Day is no longer just a day for lovers. It is also celebrated by friends, co-workers, family members, and children in schools.

Valentine’s Day is not a legal public holiday anywhere in the world.

The Dark History of Valentine’s Day

The origins of St. Valentine’s Day can be found in ancient Christianity. It’s commonly accepted that the holiday is named after a Saint Valentine. Which one is a question of debate. It is thought that at least two Valentines: Saint Valentine of Rome and Saint Valentine of Terni, were executed on February 14 by Roman Emperor Claudius II. Both Valentines lost their heads for converting Romans to Christianity and performing miracles.

Due to the similarities in their stories, some scholars believe that the two Saint Valentines were actually a single person.

In the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I designated February 14 as the feast day of St. Valentine’s.

The Legend of St. Valentine

Over the years, the legend of St. Valentine took on new myths making February 14 the day for lovers. The most popular story is that he was secretly marrying Roman soldiers. Some historians, however, claim that no such ban on marriages ever took place.

Another popular but unproved story is that St. Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter while in prison. Before being beheaded, he wrote a love letter to her, signing it “Your’s Valentine.”

Lupercalia: The Ancient Roman Festival

It is sometimes thought that the Feast of Valentine was a nod to Lupercalia, a Roman pagan festival celebrated on February 15 in Rome. Unlike the romantic nature of Valentine’s Day, Lupercalia was a festival filled with violence and ritual sacrifice to please Lupercus, the Roman God of Fertility. Pope Gelasius I, however, was very critical of Lupercalia, so it is unlikely that he was using it to base his version of the Feast of St. Valentine.

Valentine’s Day in the Middle Ages

Valentine’s Day as the day of lovers likely owes its existence to Geoffrey Chaucer, the English writer and poet. The bestselling author of Canterbury Tales published a poem called “The Parliament of Fowls.” He wrote, “Seynt Valentynes day” is the day birds chose their mates. It is possible that Chaucer didn’t literally write a poem describing the mating season of birds, but was instead referring to the marriage of King Richard II (1367–1400) and Anne of Bohemia.

Valentine's Day Letters

With Chaucer’s poem, the idea of February 14 as the day of love quickly became popular. The first recorded Valentine’s letter is dated 1415 and was a French poem written by Charles Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

The tradition of exchanging Valentine’s Day letters and poems crossed the seas to the United States in the 1800s. Early versions of Valentine cards were fashioned out of satin and lace. They were ornamented with flowers, ribbons, and images of cupid or love birds.

Today, Americans spend around a billion dollars every Valentine’s Day on greeting cards, while the British spend about 45 million pounds.

Chocolate and Valentine’s Day

Soon, other industries started competing for the Valentine’s Day market. During the Victorian era, Richard Cadbury of the Cadbury chocolate fame marketed heart-shaped chocolate boxes adorned with flowers and cherubs, which also soon became well-known symbols of February 14.

Valentine’s Day in the Christian Church

In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church removed the Feast from its calendar. It was replaced by the Feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius. However, the feast day of St. Valentine’s is still observed by some local Catholic Churches that follow the traditional Catholic calendar. Catholics in Balzan, Malta, where relics associated with the Saint have been thought to be found, also observe the Feast of Saint Valentines.

Other Christian denominations that still observe the Feast of St. Valentines include the Anglican Communion and Lutheran Churches. Eastern Orthodox denominations celebrate the Feast of St. Valentine on April 24, July 6, or July 30.

Valentine’s Day Around the World

Today, Valentine’s Day has moved away from its religious origins and has become a well-known holiday celebrated worldwide, with many cultures creating their own traditions:

  1. In Norwich, United Kingdom a person called Jack Valentine randomly visits people and leaves Valentine’s Day gifts in front of their doors. The Valentine’s Day equivalent of Santa, Jack is also known to leave useless gifts or play tricks with people.
  2. South Koreans celebrate many months of love, starting on February 14, when women woo their partners with chocolates and flowers. On March 14 or White Day, their partners respond in kind. For those unable to find love, April 14 or Black Day is a day to feel sorry about their single status.

In many countries, February 14 is a trendy day to propose marriage and hold a wedding.

The Many Different Dates For Love

Not all countries celebrate love and lovers in February.

  • Flag for Brazil In Brazil, Valentine’s Day or Dia de São Valentim is celebrated on July 12, which falls on the eve of Saint Anthony’s Day, the patron saint of matchmaking. According to sources, the decision to move the holiday to July in 1948 was purely commercial: to boost sales during the year’s lowest sales month.
  • Flag for Uruguay Uruguayans celebrate their day of love sometime in October, depending on when the market needs a boost.
  • Flag for Colombia Colombians observe Día del Amor y Amistad or the Day of Love and Friendship on the third Saturday of September.
  • Flag for Bolivia Bolivians celebrate their day of love on September 21, the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Flag for Great Britain On January 25, Wales celebrates Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. Historically, Welsh men gifted love spoons, intricately carved wooden spoons, as their token of love.
  • Flag for China In China, the 7th day of the 7th Chinese lunar month is celebrated as the Chinese Day of love. The Qixi Festival or the Double Seventh Festival honors the love story of the Niulang, a herder, and Zhinü, a weaver girl. It has been observed in China since the Han Dynasty.
  • Flag for Israel In the Jewish calendar, Tu B’Av, which falls on the 15th of the month of Av, is considered to be the Jewish day for lovers. In Israel, the day is dedicated to cultural events and is a popular day for proposals and weddings.

A Week-Long Celebration

Valentine’s Day celebrations have expanded to a week-long festival called Valentine’s Day Week in some countries like India. The week begins with Rose Day on February 7, followed by Propose Day (February 8), Chocolate Day (February 9), Teddy Day (February 10), Promise Day (February 11), Hug Day (February 12), and Kiss Day (February 13).

Seven days not enough? Argentina celebrates La Semana de la Dulzura or the Week of Sweetness in the first week of July. It was created as a marketing campaign for candy and is meant to be celebrated by exchanging kisses for chocolates and sweets.

Patron Saint of Epileptics

Today, Saint Valentine is considered the patron saint of lovers, young people, beekeepers, and people with epilepsy. Epilepsy is also often known as Valentine’s Malady. How the two are connected is not clear, though some believe that “Valentine” sounds similar to the word for “fallen” in German. Since epilepsy was known as the falling disease, Valentine became the patron saint for those suffering from epilepsy.