The first few weeks of any new year can be some of the harshest; with the combination of paying for the excesses of Christmas, cold, wet weather and short, dark days, it can all take its toll and leave you feeling downhearted.
Just as well then that February sees the welcome arrival of St.Valentines day, where romantic souls can let loose with flights of fancy and declare their feelings of love and affection with cards and gifts. But how did this holiday and card-giving tradition actually come about?
History of Valentine’s Day and Giving of Cards
Valentine greetings have actually been popular since the Middle Ages, a time when prospective lovers said or sang their romantic verses, however it wasn’t until 1400’s that this Christian feast day became definitively associated with love and the first written Valentines messages were introduced. The oldest known Valentine’s Day card was written by the imprisoned Charles, the Duke of Orleans, to his wife in 1415.
Whilst there has been much mystery surrounding the origins of Valentine’s Day, most scholars believe that it celebrates Saint Valentine, a young Catholic priest, who in Roman times conducted marriage ceremonies against the Emperor’s wishes. Emperor Claudius believed young men who enlisted in the army, made better soldiers if they weren’t encumbered by marriage, (slightly short sighted if you ask me, as how he thought he’d stock future armies without more children is a mystery). However for the lucky few, Father Valentine performed clandestine marriages, making himself unpopular with the Roman Empire. So unpopular in fact, that they had him executed! It is also said that while in prison awaiting his execution, Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter and allegedly sent her a letter signed ‘love from your valentine’.
Over the centuries, this romantic holiday has evolved but it was the Victorians who really picked up the ball and ran with it, introducing the custom of sending handmade Valentines cards, seizing the chance to display how they felt about loved ones. And so popular has it become, that it is now ranks second on the list of the occasions on which to send cards (with over 1 billion cards being sent worldwide) only out stripped by Christmas.
One of Oldest Preserved Valentines Cards (1790)
So for the romantic among us, don’t forget to send your love to the one you love tomorrow and hope you all have a Happy Valentines’ Day!
Plus here’s a few more fun facts you might not know about Valentine’s Day:
- More than 110 million roses are sold on Valentine’s Day
- Approx 73% of Valentine’s Day flowers are sent by men with 15% of women sending themselves flowers
- Approx 3% send cards to their pets. Dogs being the most popular pet, then cats
- Women spend almost half of what Men do on Valentines Day
- More than 30% of men would prefer not to receive a gift while less than 20% of women feel the same way