Like your birthday and New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day is another way of judging the state of your relationship.
History of Valentine’s Day & Valentines gifts
There are a number of legends as to the origins of St Valentine’s Day. There appear to be three Valentines who all received Sainthood at the same time, although it is now thought that these are one and the same person.
The majority of the legends that make Valentine’s Day as we know it seem to focus on Valentine the priest, who was put to death in the 3rd Century.
Valentine secretly carried out marriage ceremonies for soldiers and their lovers, after Emperor Claudius had banned marriage.
It also seems that Valentine was much loved by children, with them passing cards to him through the bars of his cell when he was imprisoned.
Cards were still left after his death because they loved him so much.
Who was St Valentine?
The details are sketchy. Some say St Valentine was a priest from Rome who lived in the third century AD.
Emperor Claudius II had banned marriages, believing married men made bad soldiers and St Valentine is thought to have arranged marriages in secret.
Saint Valentine baptizing Saint Lucilla by Jacopo Bassano
He was imprisoned and sentenced to death for his crimes. There, St Valentine apparently fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and sent her a love letter signed ‘from your Valentine’ on February 14th, the day of his execution, as a goodbye.
The name ‘Valentinus’ is found in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum, a book which was compiled between 460 and 544.
The feast of St Valentine of February 14th was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among all those “… whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.”
Wearing a coronet made from flowers and with a stencilled inscription, St Valentine’s skull now resides in the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin, on Rome’s Piazza Bocca della Verità.
What’s Cupid got to do with it all?
Cupid is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. He is often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus and the war god Mars.
Cupid is also known in Latin also as Amor (“Love”). His Greek counterpart is Eros and he is just one of the ancient symbols associated with St Valentine’s Day, along with the shape of a heart, doves, and the colours red and pink.
He is usually portrayed as a small winged figure with a bow and arrow which he uses to strike the hearts of people.
People who fall in love are said to be ‘struck by Cupid’s arrow’.
When did Valentine’s Day become so commercial?
It was during the middle of the 18th century that Valentine’s started to take off in England, with lovers sending sweets and cards adorned with flowers, ribbons and images of cupids and birds.
Eventually huge numbers of printed cards replaced hand-written ones. In 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City began mass producing Valentine’s cards.
Now about a billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged every year and it’s the second largest seasonal card sending time of the year.
What to write in a Valentine’s card
What message will you be writing to your loved one this Valentine’s Day?
If you’re thinking of just putting “Happy Valentine’s Day” and leaving it there – well, that’s fine. Not all of us can be poets. But if you wanted to go for something a bit more elaborate, why not take inspiration from some of the greatest love letters ever written?
Alternatively, if you’re not a fan of the over-commercialised, Hallmark holiday that is Valentine’s Day why not have a look through our gallery of some more cards that prove romance is dead after all.
But why do some people leave anonymous cards?
This trend was started by the Victorians, who thought it was bad luck to sign Valentine’s cards with their names.
The Victorians also started the rose-giving trend. They were the favourite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, and have come to indicate passion and romance.
Nowadays, more than 50 million roses are given for Valentine’s Day every year.
Every year, there will of course be some people who do not receive any cards, flowers or gifts on Valentine’s Day.
One teenager solved that problem by buying 900 carnations and giving them to out to all the girls at his school.
How is Valentine’s Day celebrated around the world?
In Finland, Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä, which means Friend’s Day and focuses on remembering friends.
However, in Mexico, February 14th is a day of national mourning.
In countries like Pakistan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia celebrating the day can result in severe punishment and is seen by conservative Muslims as un-Islamic.
Japanese Valentine’s Day is about all about the men. Women give chocolates to them, and hope favour is returned later in the year.
In South Korea, February 14th is one of 12 ‘love’ days that fall on the 14th of each month. Women give men presents and they reciprocate on ‘White Day’ a month later. If the gift isn’t returned, singles celebrate White Day by eating jajangmyeon, a dish made from white noodles and black bean sauce.
In Brazil, Valentine’s day isn’t celebrated in February because it usually falls on or around Brazil Carnival. Instead, Brazil celebrates ‘Dia dos Namorados’ on June 12.
Brazil’s celebration honours Saint Anthony – the patron saint of matchmaking and marriages.
Valentine’s Day, a time where people show their love and affection for another person, is quickly approaching. Aside from birthdays and Christmas, it’s the perfect time of the year to shower your loved ones in cards, flowers, and gifts.
We’re here to help you pick out the best of the best, so you can guarantee you won’t be spending Valentine’s Day in the dog house.
The best romantic recipes
A Valentine’s Day meal needs to be both delicious and impressive. Here is a selection of the most romantic recipes for your Valentine – including this heart-shapped pizza.
James Martin has also come up with a delicious winter feast to get the cockles warming…
The best romantic drinks
Kay Plunkett-Hogge suggests a cocktail or three to get you in the Valentine’s Day mood – or to get you through it, depending on your romantic state of mind…
If you are giving an alcoholic gift, Ableforth recommend their ‘Rumbullion’ rum drink as a gift for men (£35.95). Each bottle is wrapped in crinkled brown paper, wound with twine and sealed with black wax.
Still looking for love? We evaluate the best online dating tools…
There’s still some time to get yourself a date before Valentine’s Day. Any stigma which may have surrounded searching for love online has been banished, and meeting for a mid-week Tinder date is no longer something people feel they have to lie about.
But given how much choice is out there, how can you separate the wheat from the chaff? We’ve tried and tested some of the biggest dating apps for ease of use, design and, crucially, the likelihood of setting up a date for Valentine’s Day.
Special think by our specialist Arvind singh
In support of Valentine’s day:
1. There is nothing wrong with pampering your loved ones with gifts and surprises, married or not, everybody loves being showered with love and gifts. We Indians have a controversy with almost anything to everything and this is just one such good occasion being condemned by haters. What happened to freedom of expression now?
2. Forcing couples to get married and that too after conversion if they are of another religion is immoral and they talk about preventing their society from the evils of western culture. While teaching extremism and intolerance they are expecting their youth to grow into a better citizen of the country. This kind of moral policing has to stop immediately in India not just on Valentine’s day but any other day when a couple in love should be free to express themselves anywhere.
3. Taking a day off from the freaking busy lives we live these days to spend with someone we love is not a bad thing after all. Putting a big smile on the faces of those that you love, not necessarily with pricey gifts, is not bad either. Relieving you stress with a day’s celebration of love cannot be harmful too. Warning couples from indulging in expression of love in public is dangerous indeed. Any guesses where they would otherwise be hiding to celebrate their day of love? These extremists should just stop trying to be saints and simply accept that they are nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites doing nothing good for the society.
4. Those first gestures of love with cards and flowers that you get in your teens to those not so anticipated gestures of love with which your husband surprises you when you wake up one morning to find him making breakfast for you are simply adorable. They make life feel so beautiful and being loved is undoubtedly one of the best feelings ever. Not everyone is open to expressing themselves easily and Valentine’s day gives them the perfect excuse to show that they care.
5. These extremists need to understand that they cannot ever stop lovebirds and by putting up these restrictions they are only making India intolerant and ignorant to beautiful things. It was height of extremism when one such extremist was heard quoting for TOI that incidents of rape happen just because of such celebrations of love. What kind of ethics are these morons teaching our youth?
Against Valentine’s day:
1. Money can’t bring you love, nor can expensive gifts and luxurious holidays. Act of care, kindness and faith is enough for expressing love to your beloved. Valentine’s day has actually set norms for youngsters where they are made to believe that they have to shower their partner with expensive gifts to keep the relationship going even when they are just students and the gift would come from their pocket money savings.
2. Why should there be just one special day to tell your beloved how much they mean to you? This is supposed to be a daily mantra for relationships to go with bliss. In fact the very notion of expecting gifts on Valentine’s day has created this materialistic view about love these days. All those who benefit from this extraordinary show of love on a single day in a year are Hallmarks and Archie’s.
3. This day brings nightmares to the singles out there who are either done with being in a relationship or tired of expecting love from those they have huge crush on. Everyone around is talking dates and chocolates and they simply feel like hiding under stones for the rest of the day, the entire month actually. This could be one of the reasons why these extremists who are singles mostly are so against Valentine’s day celebrations. Jokes apart, this day should not make anyone feel low just because everyone else is about boyfriend and girlfriend, love yourself and love your family and friends, make them feel special.
4. While falling in and out of love is quite normal, it is extremely absurd when people start comparing how their previous date was so much better with teddies and tulips. It has become a problem with youth judging on materialistic ideas of expressing love. They often land up regretting later so why not ban this day itself?
While there are different views amongst people for either liking or disliking this day, nothing gives a group of extremists the right to forcibly marry off couples seen expressing love in public or social networking sites. What is troubling is the silence of our PM we so ardently believed to be against any sort of extremism and intolerance. While we should not be letting things that ruin our culture happen, we should not start moral policing at everything around.