The Story of Valentines

Every 14th February we all sign up to being extra especially nice to our loved one with hearts, flowers, chocolates, bubbly, lovingly prepared food and words of love.

Valentines gifts 2020

But who knows who this Valentine chap was and why is his ‘day’ celebrated in this way?

February has long been celebrated as a month of romance and St Valentine’s Day as we know it now contains vestiges of both Christian and Roman tradition.

Although the Catholic Church recognises at least three Saint named Valentine or Valentino, it is popularly thought that the Valentine in question was a priest who served in Rome during the third century in Rome. The Emperor at the time, Claudius II, outlawed marriage for young men as he wanted a stronger military and believed that soldiers with wives and families were not as courageous and strong. Valentine defied this law, risking his life, to secretly marry young couples. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius had him killed.

Another legend suggests an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first Valentine, when he fell in love, possibly with the jailer’s daughter who visited him in his confinement. He is said to have signed it “from your Valentine”, a possible reason for this well-known sign off.

So, these Roman origins believe that 14th February commemorates the anniversary of this priest’s burial.

Others believe the date was put in place by the Christians, who wished to “Christianise” the pagan festival of Lupercalia. This was a fertility festival celebrated on the Ides of February (the day before the half way point of the month).

This festival involved the sacrifice of a goat and a dog and the slapping of women and crop fields with the blood dipped hide of the goat! And there are also rumours of the names of all available women being placed in a large urn as part of the same festival. From this urn the bachelors of the city would pull a name and be paired with that person for the rest of the year in the hope it turned into marriage.

Chaucer made a link between Valentine’s and romantic love when he referred to it in his 1375 poem “Parliament of Foules,” writing, "For this was on seynt Volantynys day, Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make".

From that point there are many records that refer to St Valentine’s Day being a day of love. It was commonly believed in France and England that February 14th (now actually Feb 23rd due to changes in the calendar) was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

Another famous reference is in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. “To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window,To be your Valentine.”

From the 18th century, it became custom to send letters and tokens of love, in the 19th century with the advent of printing, cards became more popular.

Looking at Google search statistics, the search term ‘Valentines for him’ is twice as popular as ‘Valentines for her’ but we don’t think this is real proof that women give more than men, maybe just more indicative of the amount of research made by each sex before purchasing!

Valentines gifts for boyfriends and husbands similarly rank higher than for girlfriends and wives, and it will come as little surprise that the search for boyfriends was 75% more frequent than husbands and girlfriends a massive 125% higher then wives!

Our Valentine hamper gifts are actually split 55:45 in the favour of the men buying for women!