The fourteenth day of February is a yearly holiday that celebrates love among family members, friends, and romantic partners since at least as early the Middle Ages. This holiday today is often associated with lovers sharing romantic symbols of their devotion such as flowers, chocolates and cards that are usually known as valentines. Where did Valentine’s Day and its traditions come from?
Most people can tell you that Valentine’s Day commemorates the Roman Catholic Saint Valentine, but looking back in history there were two or maybe three Saint Valentines of whom little is known associated with a February date. Some will say that we have Geoffrey Chaucer to thank for first linking romantic love with Valentine’s Day in the year 1382 Scottsdale Florist.
He wrote a poem “For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate” to commemorate the engagement of King Richard the Second of England to his bride. The only complication with this tradition is that February is a bit early for birds in England to be choosing their mates and the current date of King Richard’s engagement was in May. In any case, as the western cultural idea of romantic love grew in the late Middle Ages, so did the growth of Valentine’s Day and romantic gift giving associated with the holiday.
Perhaps the oldest and most traditional gift to give on the day is sentimental poetry or prose addressed to the object of affection. Eventually out of this tradition grew the valentine card as we know it. It was in the 19th century when handwritten cards began to become a thing of the past and very elaborate greeting cards with exquisite lace and ribbons became popular for a time. Typical symbols for the valentine card are the ever popular heart, romantic white doves and that cute and chubby winged Cupid just ready to strike the hearts of the unsuspecting. Nowadays the greeting cards you see at the store have become the way to go, but who could pass up a lovely handwritten love letter from someone they care about?
In the US, Valentine’s Day has become strongly a holiday for celebration by children, even though florists and retailers of jewelry and fine chocolates are trying to make a strong case to sell all adults on the idea of celebrating the day with a gift to someone special . Of the nearly 200 million valentine greeting cards purchased in the US half are intended for child recipients and that figure does not count valentine cards that school children share with each other. Children in the youngest grades frequently have a class party for Valentine’s and give out small store-bought cards to each other that annually tally to a billion. Teachers should have every reason to love Valentine’s Day because not only does it make a break in the winter doldrums between Christmas and Easter, but teachers are the number one recipients of all valentines when school cards are counted in the statistics.
Even with its overwhelming popularity among children, Valentine’s Day has also become a popular day to get engaged or married. It is the third in every chocolate lover’s quadrumvirate of chocolate holidays: Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s and Easter. Even with all the change that has occurred in the traditions of this holiday, it is clear that it is a well-loved observation that will not be going away.
Gabriella Gometra, stay-at-home mother and writer, builds sites on a diverse number of topics, such as valentine word games.