The History Of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day was originally known as ‘St Valentine’s day’ or ‘The feast of St Valentine.’ Now we know it as a largely commercialised day in which we exchange gifts with our loved one. It is celebrated on the 14th of February every year in many countries across the world.  But why do we celebrate it and where did it start?

Where Did Valentine’s Day Begin?

Valentine’s day is said originate from AD 269 when an early Christian Saint named Valentinus was said to perform weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. He was imprisoned for his crime. Whilst in prison he was said to heel the daughter of the man that jailed him. He was sentenced to execution. Before he was beheaded he wrote a card saying ‘from your Valentine’ to the daughter. Ledged has it this is where the tradition of exchanging valentine’s cards began.

The Development Of Valentine’s Day

The first recorded association with romance on Valentine’s day is in ‘Parlement of Foules’ by Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer wrote-

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

Roughly translated this means- For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.

valentines day

This was written by Chaucer to mark the first anniversary of the engagement between Kind Richard 2nd to Anne of Bohemia. Three other poets mentioned Valentine’s Day around the same time- John Gower from England, Otton de Grandson from Savoy and Pardo from Valencia who was said to be a Knight.

Valentine’s Day is also mentioned by Shakespeare in Hamlet in 1600-

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.

—William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5

The 18th Century And On…

In 1797 England a book was published called ‘The Young Man’s Valentine Writer.’ This was full of sentimental verses appropriate to give to a loved one on Valentine’s Day. It was written for men who could not compose their own verses and put their feelings down. It was also around this time that Valentines cards were starting to be produced for people to purchase to give as a token of their affection. In the early 19th century they began to be mass produced in factories. Previous to the early 19th century hand written notes were given instead, from the 19th century on we have given cards and this trend is still going strong today.

Modern Day

Whilst we still give cards on Valentine’s Day we also now give gifts in the form of chocolates, soft toys and gift baskets. Traditions have changed drastically since Valentine’s Day began. Retailers have seen it as an opportunity to make money and it has become widely commercialised. Above all though the tradition of giving gifts and cards is still going strong.

Eilidh MacRae is writing on behalf of Your Gift Baket and would reccomend them as providers of gift baskets for Valentine’s Day.

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