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How did Valentine's Day start?

03 Feb 2023

You may love it, hate it or simply ignore it but have you wondered where Valentine’s Day came from?

As we all know, Valentine’s Day is considered a day for love and romance.

Every year on 14th February, in the UK and around the world, cards and gifts are exchanged between loved ones. Speaking of which – click here to browse our Valentine’s Day Hampers! Full of award-winning British food for UK and international delivery.

So how did Valentine’s Day start?

The true origin of Valentine’s Day is vague but it’s widely considered that the Ancient Romans held a festival that celebrated spring and fertility around the 15th February.

In the late 5th century, Pope Gelasius 1 managed to abolish this ancient festival in order, some say, to ‘Christianise’ events and made it St Valentine’s Feast Day.

However, it wasn’t until the 14th century that Valentine’s Day was celebrated as a romantic day, possibly inspired by the poetry of Chaucer.

By the 17th century, in the UK, commercially printed Valentine’s Day cards were emerging.


But who is St Valentine?

There were several Christian martyrs named Valentine but it’s possible that it was from a priest who was martyred by a roman emperor on 14th February 270 AD. 

It’s said that whilst imprisoned he signed a letter to his jailer’s daughter ‘Your Valentine’. 

It’s also believed that he defied the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare husbands from war.



How is Valentine’s Day celebrated in the UK?

The most popular Valentine’s gifts in the UK are:

Flowers – traditionally roses
Chocolates and food hampers
Gifts decorated with hearts

Other popular Valentine’s gifts include:
Dinner out (or in!)
Watching romantic films
Weekends away
Messages of love in newspapers and magazines


So is Valentine’s Day just for couples?

Contrary to popular belief Valentine’s Day is NOT exclusive to couples.

You can share the celebrations with your children, the wider family and with friends.

It’s about showing the power and love of friendships and making people feel special and loved. It’s not just about romantic love.


Why do you give roses on Valentine’s Day?

Flowers have always represented love and romance and red roses have been a symbol of passion through the ages.

Did you know:
A single red rose means love.
12 mean gratitude.
25 mean congratulations.
50 mean unconditional love (no pressure then!).

You can also give white roses (purity), red and white (unity), pink (friendship).


And why does the letter X symbolise a kiss?

People in medieval times who couldn’t sign their names would write an X and then kiss it to show sincerity, in front of a witness.


Did you know these 10 facts about Valentine’s Day? 

  1. Nearly half of the UK’s adult population consider themselves romantic.
  2. More than 25 million Valentine’s cards are sent each year in UK.
  3. Around 50 million roses are received around the world on Valentine’s Day.
  4. In the Philippines February 14th is the most common wedding anniversary.
  5. Richard Cadbury invented the 1st heart-shaped box of chocolates in 1868.
  6. Glasgow calls itself the ‘City of Love’ as it’s believed that the forearm of one of the St Valentines is kept in one of its churches, decorated with red roses.
  7. London and Northern Ireland are the two areas most likely to celebrate the 14th February.
  8. On Valentine’s Day in a leap year women in the UK can propose to their partners (not that they can’t anyway, it’s just a bit of fun!).
  9. Oliver Cromwell banned Valentine’s day in 1653. It was reinstated in 1660 when Charles 2nd came to the throne.
  10. In the UK over 10000 people propose on February 14th . However, Christmas Day is more popular!


We hope this has made things a little clearer about Valentine’s Day.

Whether you feel excited by it,  disgusted by it or can’t be bothered, you won’t be able to hide from it on February 14th….just make sure you book a table in advance if you’re planning on eating out!

And if you're spending the evening at home, consider one of our Valentine's hampers which contain all the treats required for an indulgent, relaxing evening in!