The History Behind Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is nearly here and the shops will be bursting with red roses, delicious chocolates and other gifts. Couples are busy planning romantic stuff, cosy weekends away, candlelight dinners and more.

However, have you stopped to think about how Valentine’s Day started? Do you think it’s associated to cupid? That’s the little angel with the love arrow.


Although cupid is connected with desire, erotic love, attraction and affection, he’s nothing to do with Valentine’s Day. So, let’s look at the history of the most loved-up day.


Where did Valentines Day come from?

Interestingly, Valentine’s Day is about love, but it started after the gruesome death of St. Valentines, a priest. The ruler of Rome in the third century, Emperor Claudius, wanted to grow his army. So, he tried to coax men to join and go to war. However, they wanted to stay with their wives and families instead. He was angry with them. To get revenge he banned marriages.

The priest, St Valentines, didn’t think that was fair. And so, he carried on marrying couples in secret. However, one night the guards caught him and locked him up in prison. The death sentence hung over his head.

The young people rebelled. They took flowers and notes to him in prison to support him. In addition, a lovely young woman, one of the prison guard’s daughters visited him a lot to comfort him. Just before they beat St Valentines to death and beheaded him, he wrote a thank you note to her. And signed it, “Love from your Valentine. The day was February 14th, 270 A.D.


Some other Valentine’s Day facts

  • Hundreds of years ago, children dressed up like adults, visited the adults and sang for them. One of the popular songs they sang were, “Good morning to you, Valentine. Curl your locks as I do mine. Two before and three behind. Good morning to you, Valentine.”
  • A student, Esther Howland, made the first distinctive Valentine’s card. She used lace, ribbons and coloured pictures. People called her “Mother of the Valentine” because of her wonder creativity.
  • Charles Duke of Orleans, a Frenchman, wrote the first Valentine’s poem for his wife, in 1415. He was in prison at the time and spent 25 years there. In his poem, he called her “Ma tres doulce Valentinee” meaning “My very sweet Valentine.” He wrote 60 poems to her.
  • In Japan, women give chocolates and gifts to their men on Valentine’s Day. And, on White Day, the 14th March, the men gives chocolates to their women.
  • Did you know teachers are very popular on Valentine’s Day? They get over 650 million cards from the children in the classroom.
  • Juliet from the Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet, get over 1000 letters each year from people trying to keep the romance alive.
  • Young men and women picked names from a bowl on Valentine’s Day in the middle ages. They wore the names on their sleeves for one week. The famous saying, “You wear your heart on your sleeves” began from that time.

You will probably never look at Valentine’s Day the same again. Now you know the history behind it, you’ll treat it more than a commercialised day. The priest, St. Valentines, who died for his passion for preserving marriage, was indeed a martyr.



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