It is often described as a “Hallmark Holiday” due to its commercial nature. It is true that billions of dollars are spent around the world on Valentine’s Day gifts. But what is the story behind Valentine’s Day and how is it celebrated around the world? How did a Christian feast day spread throughout the world and turn into such a big deal?
Valentine’s Day is an annual holiday and is celebrated on the 14th February each year. It is also referred to as Saint Valentine’s Day or The Feast of Saint Valentine. Valentine’s Day originally started as a Christian feast day celebrated in Western society. The day was created to honor one or more saints named Valentinus – yes there were multiple Saint Valentines!
The Story of Saint Valentine
Saint Valentine was a Roman and was imprisoned for conducting illegal Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. He was accused of ministering to Christians, who at that time were persecuted under the Roman Empire. It is said that Saint Valentine was interrogated by the then emperor Claudius II regarding his crimes. Claudius attempted to convert Valentine to Paganism so that he would be pardoned of his crime, but Valentine refused to denounce Christianity. He was sentenced to execution.
While he was being held in jail (prior to execution), Valentine is said to have healed the blind daughter of his jailer Asterius. On the evening before his execution, Valentine wrote a farewell letter to Asterius’ daughter and signed off with ‘Your Valentine’.
Apparently when Saint Valentine died, Asterius’ daughter Julia planted an almond tree near his grave. The almond tree has since become a symbol of love and friendship.
Many Christian martyrs were named Valentine, and for this reason Saint Valentine’s Day is an official celebration of many Christian denominations throughout the world. It is celebrated by the Anglican, Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox Church. It is not always celebrated on 14 February, however.
According to legend, Saint Valentine would cut out heart-shaped pieces from parchment paper to remind the men he was marrying of their vows and God’s love. This possibly explains the use of the love heart shape in connection with Valentine’s Day world-wide.
The romanticism of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day started being associated with the notion of romantic love in 14th century England. During this time the tradition of ‘courtly love’ became popular.
In 18th century England, lovers started expressing their love by gifting flowers, confectionery and sending greeting cards which became known as ‘Valentines’.
The tradition of sending Valentines continued and by the 19th century, the English were sending tens of thousands of the love letters each year. As the popularity of these letters grew, paper valentines were eventually manufactured in factories by women. In 1840 postage costs reduced due to the invention of the Penny Black postage stamp. 400,000 Valentines were sent that same year.
These days, Valentine’s Day continues to be a commercialised holiday, especially with the invention and growth of e-cards, coupons and printable greeting cards.
Fun facts about Valentine’s Day
- $1.9 billion (estimated) was spent throughout 2015 in the UK alone on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts
- An estimated 15 million Valentines were sent in the U.S in 2010.
- In Japan, tradition, women gift chocolates to their male colleagues on Valentine’s Day, and the men return the favour on 14 March (White Day)
- South Korean tradition dictates that the women give chocolate to men on Valentine’s Day, men give non-chocolate candy to women on White Day (14 March) and on 14 April all those who didn’t receive a Valentine’s Day or White Day commiserate their apparent ‘singledom’ with a bowl of black noodles.
Valentine’s Day at The Westport Club
Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating those you whom you love, and at The Westport Club we’ve got several options on offer for you to do just that!
Enjoy a 2 course lunch at Aqua Restaurant for just $40 per couple or 2 course dinner for just $55.
HASTINGS COFFEE CO.
Spoil your loved one with our ‘Sweethearts’ Indulgence’: a shared dessert tasting plate accompanied by 2 coffees
JIMMY’S BAR & LOUNGE
You and your loved one can enjoy a decadent night of delight at Jimmy’s with love-themed cocktails and chocolate tasting plates!