Valentine’s Day is known to be the day of lovers around the world – but where does this special day come from? What are the habits of different countries around February 14th, and what gifts will make Valentine’s Day really special?
WHEN IS VALENTINE’S DAY?
One of the most common questions – probably most among men, and at least according to Google’s statistics – is: when is exactly Valentine’s Day celebrated? It’s easy to answer: February 14th. But why do we celebrate it, and why do we give gifts to our loved ones on this special day? We have some answers!
THE ORIGINS OF VALENTINE’S DAY
PAGAN FERTILITY CELEBRATION IN ANCIENT ROME
The roots of Valentine’s Day go back to pre-Christianity. On February 15, the Fertility Celebration called Lupercalia was held in Ancient Rome. On this day, in order to reconcile Lupercus, a god in the form of a wolf, a selected boy and a girl ran through the streets of the city, almost naked, helding a ritual whip to scourge passers-by – especially young women, who were often deliberately seeking to meet them, because it was believed that this ritual favored fertility. An other tradition of this day was a ritual coupling ceremony, when each of the girls threw a note with his name in a bowl from which single boys drew. The couples thus formed spent the ceremony together, but according to tradition, often they also stayed together afterwards. No wonder the Christian Church then looked at the pagan feast of Lupercalia as a promotion of promiscuity.
ST. VALENTINE’S AND LOVERS DAY
According to legend, at the end of the 3rd century a Christian priest named Valentine lived in Rome. At that time the emperor, II. Claudius decreed that young men should not marry, because he believed they became better soldiers by doing so. Valentine did not respect the emperor’s will and kept on marrying couples, so the emperor put him in prison and sentenced him to death. Valentine’s piety softened the heart of one of the prison guards, who introduced Valentine to his daughter. Legend has it that the girl was blind, but the priest, by the power of her faith, did a miracle, healed her and gave her her sight back.
However, this good deed did not save him, and he had to face death. On the day of his execution he sent a farewell message to the girl, which he signed “Your Valentine” – traditionally, this is where Valentine’s Day messaging comes from. Finally, an order in 496 acknowledged Valentine as a saint and ordered that he should be celebrated on February 14th – almost exactly on the day of Lupercalia. The two feasts have merged and Saint Valentine became the patron of lovers.
FROM POEMS TO BOUQUETS OF FLOWERS
The first Valentine’s Day letter in England was sent in 1477 and is now kept by The British Library. In the 1700s, Valentine poetry volumes became fashionable, and in the 1800s, greeting cards have been introduced. In 1667, a poet called Samuel Pepys surprised his wife with a beautiful poem on Valentine’s day, which she returned with a bouquet of flowers. This custom then spread to the British noblemen and then to the common people.
VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS AND HABITS AROUND THE WORLD
Today, more than a billion of greeting cards are being sent on Valentine’s Day in the United States alone, making this the second busiest period of the year after Christmas in post offices. In Japan, only ladies give a gift to men – not only to their lovers, but also to friends and coworkers. In Hungary, this day is celebrated as ‘Bálint’ day (a local version of ‘Valentine’), and there are several traditions that make it special: it is believed that a kiss early in the morning brings good luck, and if we put a bay leaf under a young lady’s pillow, she would dream about her future husband.
VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS ONLINE
Naturally, Valentine’s Day gifts have not been left out of the conquest of the Internet. Sending flowers or other gifts online is not only convenient and practical, but is often the only possible solution, if your loved ones live far away.
Arioso offers a simple and reliable way to send flowers and gifts online. In addition to bouquets, flower boxes and potted flowers, we also offer premium quality chocolates, candies, teas, biscuits, excellent liqueurs, wines and champagnes, as well as handmade soaps and pre-made gift packs – anything that can surprise our dearest person through Arioso.
Check out our webshop selection and surprise your loved one with a personalized gift on this wonderful day!