History of Valentine’s Day | Celebrating Then and Now

History of Valentine’s Day | Celebrating Then and Now

As February chugs on, many people find themselves buying flowers and candy for their significant others for the Valentine’s Day holiday. As you join in these traditions, however, you may find yourself wondering where exactly they came from, and how they tie into the holiday’s original intentions. 


Read on to discover the unique history of Valentine’s Day and learn the reason we celebrate it the way we do! 

mug of cocoa and hearts

 

The Legend of Saint Valentine

Not much is known about the actual origin of Valentine’s Day, other than that it began with a Christian Saint known as Saint Valentine. Unfortunately, however, the Catholic Church recognizes multiple different saints who are named Valentine, so no one is really certain which one of these is responsible for our February celebrations. 


Some people allege that Saint Valentine, whoever he was, was a priest who performed marriages despite a decree from the king or emperor he served under. This decree was in place because the ruler decided that single men made better soldiers than their married counterparts, and Valentine recognized this as being unfair and continued to perform them anyway. 


Another legend suggests that Valentine was a Saint who helped others escape from harsh prisons where they were wrongfully confined. Eventually, he landed in prison himself and found himself smitten with his jailor’s daughter, who often came to visit him. Some people suggest that, throughout his confinement, he wrote the girl many letters—all of which began with the phrase, “From your Valentine,” an expression still used today. 


Whatever the truth behind the legend is, it certainly has strong ties to being thankful for personal relationships and expressing love for others. 

 

I love you sign with red hearts

 

The Celebration of Valentine’s Day Throughout the World

When you don’t travel to other countries frequently, it becomes easy to assume that the way you celebrate holidays is the way other countries must celebrate them as well. However, this is not the case for any holiday, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. 


Here are some examples of how Valentine’s Day is celebrated throughout the world:

United States

In the US, it’s customary to purchase items such as flowers and chocolates and present them to your significant other (often your crush, boyfriend/girlfriend, or spouse). It’s also common to create gifts that demonstrate your romantic love and which come from the heart. 


For schools around the US, Valentine’s Day is a big deal as well. Children are tasked with bringing in Valentine’s notes to give to all their classmates, and candy is often provided as well. Some schools even set up candy-gram systems where others can purchase a candy-gram and send it either with a personal note or anonymously to a person they are smitten with. 


All in all, in the United States, Valentine’s Day is an extremely romantic holiday full of sweet gifts and elaborate “Be My Valentine” proposals. 

 

man holding chocolate heart and roses behind his back

 

France

As it is believed that Valentine’s Day may have actually originated in France, it makes sense that this country would take the holiday to a whole new level. 


In fact, France actually celebrates Valentine’s Day in the same way that US citizens celebrate Christmas. They decorate their yards and the outsides of their houses with gorgeously crafted hearts, love cards, roses, and proposals. Because of this, France is the Valentine’s Day epicenter. 


The Phillippines

In the Phillippines, Valentine’s Day is celebrated through a gala event that is sponsored by the country’s government. 


During this event, couples can come from all around to attend the festivities, eat, drinks, dance, and then finish up the night by being married all at once! There is also no limit to the number of couples that can be married on this night, which makes it extremely popular among the young Filipino lovebirds. 

The Netherlands

The Netherlands is unique in their celebration of Valentine’s Day in that they don’t regard it as a solely romantic holiday. In addition to using the day to express their love to their partners and spouses, the Dutch also observe this day as a symbol of friendship and companionship. 


Because of this, you’ll often see the Dutch celebrating Valentine’s day with get-togethers and parties where they can express their love and affection not only to their lovers but also to their friends and family.

 

valentines day letters with hearts and twine

 

Final Thoughts

Valentine’s Day may seem like a straightforward holiday, but it’s actually shrouded in plenty of mystery! From the original event that prompted it to the person it’s named after, no one is actually sure where Valentine’s day comes from. 


Among all the intrigue, however, there is one thing that is certain: Valentine’s day is a day where one can celebrate in any way they please—no matter whether that be to get married, confess their love to their crush’s, give chocolates and roses as gifts, or even just to let friends and family know that they are cherished and cared about. 


With all that in mind, how will you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? 

 

 

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