What Is Valentine's Day: Origins, History & Celebrations

Every 14th of February, millions of people celebrate valentine's day (which is also known as saint valentine's day) and express their love to their lovers or family members by sending valentine's day cards and gifts. Celebrating valentine's day is not just about romantic love as it is a modern holiday that is now so much more than that and can be shared among friends.

What Is Valentine's Day All About?

What Is Valentine's Day All About?

St. Valentine's Day is celebrated annually and has been around since the third century. Since then it has turned into a holiday where young men and young women spend quality time with each other and celebrate their love and romantic relationships.

A Brief History Of Valentine's Day

How exactly did Valentine's day originate? While the real story is still a bit of a mystery, there are still a lot of details that are known for sure.

This holiday goes back to about 200 to 300 AD and during this period there were two saints named valentine that were Christian martyrs because of their heroic acts. The more popular story was the one about Saint Valentine that performed secret marriages of young couples.

When Saint Valentine was still alive, a lot of Romans were being converted to Christianity and this angered Emperor Claudius ii, who was a pagan. The emperor passed a law that prevented Roman soldiers from marrying. Saint Valentine started marrying these soldiers with secret Christian ceremonies, which is why he has a reputation for having a belief in true love.

Saint Valentine was eventually caught and then sent to jail for his crimes. In jail, he looked after the prisoners and even the jailer's daughter that was blind. He also cured the young girl of blindness and would write her a love letter signed "from your Valentine" as his last act before he would be executed. He was finally executed on the 14th of February.

How Did Valentine's Day Begin?

It took about 200 years after the execution of saint Valentine before the 14th of February was declared St. Valentine's day. At this point, the Christian church in Rome had its focus set on clearing out any paganism that remained.

The Pope Gelasius of the Catholic church was known to abolish the ancient pagan festival and then declared the 14th of February as Valentine's day. He expelled the pagan rituals as he muddled things by combining St. Valentine's day and the feast of Lupercalia.

As the 15th century came to an end, "Valentine" was already synonymous to love and a book known as "The Young Man's Valentine Writer" was published in England in the 18th century.

What Are The Legend Of St. Valentine And The Feast Of Lupercalia?

There are people that feel like the Christians placed the Saint Valentine's feast day in February in other to abolish the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. The feast of Lupercalia was actually a fertility festival used to honor the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus, and also the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

During this feast, the roman priests would run around naked and keep slapping women gently with the hides of sacrificed animals for what they believed promoted fertility. It also involved a tradition where young men drew the names of women from a jar to see who they would be with till the next year.

Who Made Valentine's Day And Why?

Technically, Pope Gelasius was the one to invent Valentine's day as he abolished the roman festival and then established St Valentine's day in AD 496 to honour saint Valentine that was martyred.

When Was Valentine’s Day First Recorded As A Day Of Romantic Celebration?

During the middle ages, the first person to link St. Valentine's day with romantic love was the poet Chaucer. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote "The Complaint of Mars" and "The Parlement of Foules", which is where he actually linked Valentine's day with romance.

William Shakespeare was also fully credited with adding to the popularity of this romantic holiday.

Which Is The Oldest Known Valentine?

The oldest known valentine is a poem that was written in 1415. Following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt, Charles, the Duke of Orleans was known to write the oldest Valentine as he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

What Is The Significance Of Valentine's Day Today?

What Is The Significance Of Valentine's Day Today?

Why is valentine's day celebrated with the exchange of fancy boxes, handwritten notes, chocolates, and flowers? It is no surprise that St. Valentine's day is linked with love and affection since the middle of February was initially popular for fertility festival celebrations and then also used to honor the two Valentines that believed in love.

Celebration Of Love And Affection

Valentine's day has evolved to become a day to celebrate every kind of human relationship including courtly love and the rest. This date is celebrated all over the world and was created to honor love and affection between people.

A lot of people make plans on this day to celebrate their loved ones. Some choose to go on a romantic getaway, while others opt for showering their lover with gifts and all sorts of things.

Recognition Of Romantic Relationships

Valentine's day is one of those holidays that allow many couples to take some time and consider their romantic relationships. It is the perfect time to evaluate and recognize your romantic relationship whether you are bounded by marriage or you are dating someone special.

Importance Of Expressing Love And Appreciation

Studies have shown that we are at our best when we are in a mutual friendship or love with someone. Valentine's day is a holiday that reminds us that there is love to be shared in this new world.

It is a nice opportunity to show your appreciation for their respect and love for you whether it is your significant other, family members, or even co-workers. Expressing love and appreciation strengthens your bond with your loved ones and also includes other benefits like better mood, improved satisfaction, and reduced stress.

Is Valentine's Day Meant Only For Lovers?

While it is usually depicted as a day for only love-stricken couples, Valentine's day is a day of expressing love and this celebration can be shared between any two people. So, everyone is free to celebrate all kinds of love, whether it is with your lover, friend, or whole family.

What Are The Symbols Of Valentine's Day?

What Are The Symbols Of Valentine's Day?

Now it is time to look at some of the most important Valentine's day symbols and you can incorporate them into your celebrations as you exchange small tokens and notes. These symbols include:

  • Ribbons: Even as far back as ancient times, strings and ribbons were used to symbolize love and other intimate feelings. Knights and kings would receive this symbol of love before embarking on their battles. Also, young men would also use this as a reply to the girls they are in love with. This is why in recent times, a ribbon is always incorporated on Valentine's day on either Valentine's greeting cards or gift baskets.

  • Knots Of Love: Another great Valentine's day symbol is the knot of love, it symbolizes eternal love between significant others. It is made with a series of knots and braids that has no starting or endpoint.

  • Hearts: Without a doubt, the heart is a symbol of love. As is with Valentine's day tradition that is widely celebrated by most countries, the love symbols of this celebration include a red heart that has been pierced by Cupid's arrow. A lot of poets have placed emphasis on the importance of the heart when it comes to love, which is why they are now linked in the minds of people.

  • Doves: Doves were once popular as the pets of the Greek goddess but have since evolved to symbolize the love between couples. Even now, it is given as a gift to show everlasting love or friendship between loved ones. One legend has it that birds choose their mate on February 14th.

  • Roses: It shouldn't come as a surprise that the rose flower is a symbol of love and beauty. There were lots of artists that incorporated this in their paintings because of what it symbolizes. Since Roses are flowers of love, it is not surprising that they are used when sending love messages.

  • Handwritten notes and cards: One of the oldest Valentine's letters was written by the French Duke of Orleans while he was imprisoned. Handmade notes and cards allow lovers to fully express their love to one another. This is why cards and notes are used on Valentine's day. The first mass-produced valentines cards were done by Esther Howland. Valentine's day cards were made very popular with the help of the industrial revolution. The Greeting card association estimates that about 145 million Valentine's day cards are sent every year.

Who Is Cupid?

Who Is Cupid?

Another name for Cupid is desire and is a very popular symbol of love for most people in Great Britain and other countries too. Irrespective of how he is depicted now as a chubby and naked baby wielding a bow and arrow, Cupid has origins rooted deep in Greek mythology.

In actuality, Cupid is the Roman god of love and desire who is known for shooting arrows to pierce someone's heart thereby controlling their feelings, and could also make people fall instantly in love.

How Valentine's Day Is Celebrated

There are a lot of ways to celebrate valentine's day in these modern times.

Giving Gifts (flowers, chocolates, jewelry)

Giving gifts to your loved one on Valentine's day is a great way to celebrate the holiday. If you are celebrating with large groups of people, you can attach notes to pieces of candy. For that special someone, you can get luxury jewelry, a box of chocolates, or a bouquet of flowers.

Romantic Dinners And Outings

Romantic Dinners And Outings

Another great way to spend Valentine's day is by going outing with your significant other. You can make a reservation at a fancy restaurant or better still, plan a romantic dinner in your home to make the evening that bit more intimate. There are also other different activities people can engage in during Valentine's day including picnics, skydiving, and site seeing.

Sending Cards And Messages Of Love

Valentine's day is a time to show your love to others. A great way to do this is by sending messages that come from a place of love. You could make a homemade card specially for the person you love or you could purchase one from the store.

Special Events And Activities

People also participate in various activities during Valentine's day. A group of friends can also go together to a special event. The idea is to share a wonderful moment with those you love on this day. It could be as simple as enjoying a fun game night or planning Valentine's day party.

Different Cultures And Their Celebrations

Different Cultures And Their Celebrations

Different countries have their various ways of celebrating valentine's day. In this part of the article, we will be comparing the celebration of Valentine's day in some countries.

Comparison Of Valentine's Day Celebrations In Different Countries

  • England: Lovers in this country exchange red roses while the children exchange Valentine's cards.

  • France: Paris is popularly known as the most romantic place in the world. They have a three-day festival and lots of people gather from different countries to celebrate.

  • Italy: People in Italy love to celebrate this holiday with romantic dinners. They also have a full week packed with fun activities.

  • Japan: On valentine's day in Japan, girls give chocolates to the guys they admire. Then men respond with more luxurious gifts on March 14, which is known as White day.

  • Argentina: This country celebrates Valentine's day for a whole week.

What Religion Is Against Valentine's Day?

The following countries are against Valentine's day due to one reason or the other. They have placed an outright ban on the celebration and you might face judgment if caught celebrating the holiday. These countries are:

  • Malaysia

  • Pakistan

  • Iran

  • Indonesia

  • Uzbekistan

  • Saudi Arabia

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

There are a lot of things you can gift to your loved ones on Valentine's day and you can let your imagination run wild. Some of these gift ideas include:

  • Traditional gifts (flowers, chocolates, jewelry): For Valentine's day, you can share different gifts that symbolize your love. For example, you can get a nice jewelry set, a box of chocolates, or even beautiful rose flowers.

  • Creative and unique gift ideas: You can let your imagination flow and come up with some creative gifts that are tailored to suit your lover's preferences.

  • Personalized gift options: A personalized gift item is a very thoughtful Valentine's day gift. It shows that you care and really appreciate them.

  • Budget-friendly gift suggestions: There are different gifts you can get for your partners during valentine's even if you are on a budget. You can get massage oils, scented candles, warm cozy slippers, or other DIY gifts.

How To Celebrate Valentine's Day?

How To Celebrate Valentine's Day?

These are some of the lovely ways you can celebrate Valentine's day to make it very special.

  • You can book a romantic date.

  • You can buy a box of chocolate and other sugary treats.

  • Try spending some time alone and pampering yourself.

  • Another fun way to celebrate would be to throw a party in your home.

  • You can even propose to your dream girl and ask her to marry you.

  • Get gifts for that special someone.


Valentine's day is a great day to celebrate your loved one. There are a lot of stories behind the origin of this wonderful holiday. What's important is that you get to spend the day doing fun and memorable things with the one you love.

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