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In February the stores are full of Valentine’s Day cards and gifts. You will see heart-shaped things just about everywhere. So you might be asking yourself, what is Valentine’s Day?
1. What is Valentine’s Day?
It’s the day when you are encouraged to show your affection for another person by sending cards, flowers or chocolates with messages of love. What does that mean for you? Well, it is a time when you can let someone know how you feel whether it is someone new or you are an established couple. If you are shy you can even do this anonymously!
2. How did Valentine’s Day Begin?
Let me tell you, it’s a sad romantic story. The day gets its name from St Valentine. He was a Roman priest in the third century AD.
Marriage was banned but Valentine thought this was unjust, so he arranged secret marriages for people. When discovered he was sentenced to death and put in jail. During his time in jail, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter.
On 14th February, the day of his death, he sent her a secret message saying “from your Valentine”. To this day many valentine cards and gifts are sent anonymously and signed this way.
3. Why is Valentine’s Day Celebrated?
Valentine’s day started as a traditional Pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia. Later, when Rome had converted to Christianity, the Pope banned all Pagan festivities and instead declared 14th February to be St Valentine’s Day, a feast day in the Catholic Calendar to celebrate St Valentine’s death.
However, looking around a restaurant full of couples exchanging gooey expressions over heart-shaped desserts, it’s hard to imagine that Valentine’s Day has roots in ancient tales of religious subjugation. So why on earth do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?
EXPLORING WHY WE CELEBRATE VALENTINE’S DAY IS NOT JUST ABOUT ITS’ ORIGINS, BUT ABOUT ITS IMPRESSIVE LONGEVITY, AND WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT HUMAN NATURE.
Over time you can see that this religious feast has developed into the modern tradition of celebrating love and romance. It was Chaucer who first linked St Valentine’s day to romance and Shakespeare continued this and helped to inspire the romanticism you know today.
REBELLION AND MARTYRDOM
So what are the origins of Valentine’s Day and its’ patron saint? The truth is shrouded in mystery. In fact, there are multiple candidates for Saint Valentine himself, it being a popular name in ancient Rome.
The most popular legends – of Valentine the priest and Valentine the Bishop of Terni – both depict our hero as a religious rebel, who married Christians in defiance of Emperor Claudius II’s ruling that young men should remain single in order to make better soldiers.
Valentine is imprisoned, performs a miracle by healing his captor’s blind daughter, and is executed on 14 Feb. In one version, he sends the daughter a card signed “From your Valentine”.
Leap forward to 496 A.D. and Pope Gelasius officially declared 14 Feb the “First Feast Day Of Saint Valentine”. But was this solely a move to celebrate a saint?
I prefer this more interesting motive: to tame the violent, sexually-charged Lupercalia pagan festival on 15 Feb. Here, shenanigans included:
- Sacrificial Goats and Dogs
- Naked women whipped with animal hides (Why? To increase fertility, of course!)
- Matchmaking fun
Martyrdom to Romance
Not sounding particularly romantic? This is a fair assessment if your idea of romance isn’t gruesome executions or sacrificial goats.
Enter the Middle Ages and the Father of English Literature, Geoffrey Chaucer. In the poem “Parliament of Fowls” he writes:
‘For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate’.
By the 1400’s, inspired nobles started sending “valentines” to their sweethearts, and over time, more writers connect Valentine’s Day with romance. As time continues, symbols of love from different cultures are attached to the holiday, including:
- Giving flowers (representing love/ fertility)
- Roses (Aphrodite and Greek mythology)
- Cupid (Roman mythology)
Add in gift-giving, and the explosion of the printing press and mass-produced cards, and hey presto! You’ve got the mixed bag that Valentine’s Day is today.
These days, you can either embrace Valentine’s and its’ mushy sentiments, or opt for the more cynical Valentine’s-is-a-corporate-money-making-scam attitude.
True, Valentine’s generates billions of dollars in revenue each year, but this meets the demand in popular culture.
In fact, in some countries celebrating just one day isn’t enough. For example:
- Japan: “White Day” 14 March (men must return all gifts given by women on Valentine’s, and more)
- Korea: “Black Day” 14 April (singletons share in self-pity over black noodles!)
Sub-culture celebrations, like “Black Day” for singletons or “Galentine’s” for female friendships, aren’t as anti-valentine’s in sentiment as you may think, but a way of spreading the celebration of love to wider (platonic) groups.
Why we celebrate Valentine’s Day historically is a real mixed bag of Christian, Roman, Pagan, and Medieval influences. Yet, why we still celebrate it today is really a question about human nature, and the joy we take in celebrating love, of all kinds.
4. Who Celebrates Valentine’s Day?
In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.
Each country has its own traditions. You will see that some other countries do not celebrate for religious reasons or to avoid promoting western culture.
5. How Do We Celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day is the time to declare your love to someone special. You can simply send a card. You can even do this anonymously with a hopeful declaration of love and affection.
You can also give a gift such as flowers, chocolates, jewellery, or perfume.
6. Why Do We Send Cards on Valentine’s Day?
The stores are full of Valentine’s Day cards, but why do you send them? The first modern Valentine Card was sent in 1415 by Charles Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
In the eighteenth century, handmade cards were sent but by the nineteenth-century cards were being mass-produced as the printing industry developed.
7. Why Do We Send Red Roses on Valentine’s Day?
Red roses are a symbol of love written about in several traditional poems and nursery rhymes. You may recognise “The rose is red, the violet’s blue. The honey’s sweet and so are you”.
So now you can send Red Roses knowing they are a symbol of your love.
8. Why Do We Send Chocolates on Valentine’s Day?
Chocolate is a well-known aphrodisiac since the time of the Aztecs. It is thought to contain a substance that increases desire and so encourages romance. This is a good reason for you to give chocolates as a declaration of your love.
9. What to do for Valentines Day online?
Valentines day is coming up and for a lot of us this year, some will not be able to go out for dinner or plan a big date with our special someone. It makes sense to start thinking about what you can do at home and in particular what does a valentines day online look like? Some of us will be a bit nervous about trying to make the day special without going out.
Will a Valentines day online be disappointing?
The short answer is No! There is no reason that a celebration should have to be bad just because it depends on the virtual side of life. If you don’t live with your partner then for some people, it could be the best way to be together. You might need to quarantine when February 14th rolls around or just live too far apart to get together in person. The good news is that there is a massive variety of ways to have a virtual date with your valentine.
What can I do online for Valentines day if my significant other is in a different location?
Just because you should think outside the box for an online valentines day, doesn’t mean you can’t take any inspiration from a traditional valentines idea. Send them a valentines card. You could have a pretty paper card sent to them or challenge each other to make the best valentines day card in an online doodle app or Paint. Exchange the cards at the same time. You’ll both feel a little more love with the homemade touch.
What can I do to make us seem closer?
Another option would be to think about your dinner plans. Could you cook and eat the same meal over a video call? Perhaps you could arrange to order the same kind of take out or send take out to their house as a surprise. You can often do this via food delivery sites or apps, even if you are in a different country or state.
Video calls are great, but you might want to add a bit of variety to your online date. You could start an online games night with versions of scrabble, quizzes, dictionary or cards against humanity. If board games aren’t really up your street and you are longing for a sense of adventure then online role-play games could be the answer for your valentines day online. World of Warcraft, Skyrim or Eve Online are good bets for those who want a big world, where your characters can go on quests together, fight bad guys together. What could be more romantic than co-operatively slaying a dragon?
Netflix has also launched a feature where you can watch a movie at the same time as a friend so you can chat on a call while you watch a romantic film together. You could even try an escape room together online, log in together and pit yourselves against zombies, Moriarty or carry out a bank heist. The circumstances aren’t real but the fun is.
Last but not least, there are so many online florists these days that being apart is no reason why you can’t surprise your hearts desire with a beautiful bouquet.
10. How do I make my Valentine feel special?
Valentines Day comes around every year and for anyone with a special someone in their life, it poses a challenge. Every year we ask ourselves, how do I make my valentine feel special? It is not an easy task, the answer is different for each person, but here is how you can find out the answer for you.
First, think about your sweetheart. What kind of person are they? Do they love heavy metal or would they prefer to catch a string quartet recital? Do they love to get dressed up or are they happiest in their sweatpants on the couch? You should make plans that allow them to enjoy themselves but that is not the only reason to tailor your plan to their interests. Showing an interest in their favourite pastimes and what makes them most comfortable will show that you care about them as a person.
If your love is a sports fanatic then switch the sports segment on for them. Learn a little bit about their favourite team so that you can chat about it or book tickets to see a game. If you are head over heels for a bookworm, then look for a new book from a favourite author. They will love the thoughtfulness as much as the activity itself.
Once you have made plans, you might want to think about other surprises you could arrange to show them that they are on your mind. If your valentine has to go to work then slip an extra little treat into their lunch bag. For an even better effect, add in a little note. It could say something sweet or just something you know they will find funny. Thinking about them in advance and wanting to make them happy will make your special person feel loved. Making them something home-made like cookies or a cupcake adds sparkle to the middle of their day.
Last but not least, we have the classic romantic ways to show someone you care on valentines day. Even if you are not much of a cook, you could learn to cook them a home-cooked dinner. If you’re a real disaster in the kitchen, you could find out their favourite flowers or wine and have them ready for them when they come home on Valentine’s day. If your love enjoys a bit of a show then have a bouquet and candy sent to their workplace. It will make them blush but they will know that they were on your mind.
If you share a home with your beau then you can make things feel special at home. Draw them a hot bubble bath, light candles and put on some relaxing music. When they get out you can be waiting with a special glass of champagne and strawberries or even just a hot cup of tea and their favourite cookies.
The most important thing to make your valentine feel special is to tell them honestly how much they mean to you. Sincerity, thoughtfulness and love are priceless.
11. What to Write in a Valentine’s Day Card
The technological advances that we have, have caused expressing feelings or thoughts to become faster and easier. Although there are many advantages to this, it seems that many forget the traditional and charming way of communicating with a special person: Valentine’s letters.
There is something magical about writing and giving a written letter to your partner. Valentine’s love letters have an implicit feeling inside them. This shows vulnerability, intimacy, authenticity, and also that it is a memory that lasts over time.
The letters are a tangible detail that can be treasured and reread over time. Reliving the emotion by reading them again. It is a lovely tool to use to remember your history and why you are together. It is an opportunity to express what sometimes you do not say and feel intensely. Cards on Valentine’s Day have the power to make you fall in love again!
If you decide to write a letter but are not sure how to start. Do not panic. Here is a basic guide on how you can get started. So he grabs paper and pencil and begins to write.
- You must make it clear that it is a love letter
You can start with something that tells her that you were thinking about her and how much you love her and that that is why you are writing this letter.
- Remember romantic moments
The beauty of being with someone is that each story is different. His love is full of memories and memorable moments. It’s a good idea to highlight your favorite moment with her. This will help you get inspired and make your partner smile when they read it. You can choose the day they met, the first outing, the vacation together or any special moment.
- The transition from the past to the present
Since you brought a memory to his mind, you should go back to the present expressing how you feel today and thank him for the time together.
- Mention the things you like about your partner
This is one of the most sincere parts of the letter. This is where you make a list of the things you love about her. They can be physical, character, or personality aspects. Here you can also tell him how his presence has impacted your life and your personal growth.
- Reaffirm your love and commitment
This is the time to tell her how much you love her and that growth only grows as the days go by. You can use phrases like “Nothing fills me more with pride than thinking of always being by your side”
- End the letter with a line that summarizes your feelings.
The golden rule is that you be sincere and authentic. Express your love your way, you don’t want to pretend to be someone else. You can choose to write some sincere and full of feeling lines or go for something more romantic or cheesy. All up to you. Also depending on the personality of your partner, you can end it with an inside joke. Whatever you choose, try to be according to your personality and your relationship in general.
Valentine’s Day is a old tradition that comes once per year. It is a time to show people that are special in your life what you truly think of them. It can be as simple as a phone call, sms or more intricate as a date, gift, flowers or a card. What every you do, do it with sincerity and heart. Everyone appreciates being recognized so there is now way to fail as long as you try your best and do something.