Whether you embrace it or hate it. In February you can’t escape the abundance of hearts and roses in every shop. But why?! Why is February 14th Valentines Day? Where does it come from? And is Valentines Day only for couples?
Origin of Valentines:
It is thought the origins of Valentines Day date back to Roman times. Perhaps with a festival called Lupicaria, where members would sacrifice a goat for fertility. Then skin its hide into strips, dip them in sacrificial blood and gently slap them on the women in the streets. Supposedly this increased fertility for the coming year. According to legend, these women would also drop their names into a big urn. The city’s bachelors would pick a name, and would be paired up for the year with his chosen woman – these matches often ended in marriage.
Origin of St Valentine:
The origins of St Valentine himself also vary. Some believe Valentine was a priest who secretly married couples when marriage was outlawed for young men (it was believed single men made better soldiers). During the middle ages it was commonly believed that birds mating season began on 14th February, perhaps another reason why the theme of love and this date are so interlinked. English poet Chaucer, was the first to record St. Valentines Day as a romantic celebration. In his 1375 poem ‘Parliament of Foules’ writing “For this was sent on Saint Valentines day/When every foul cometh their to choose his mate”.
In the UK, by the 17th century, Valentines day was becoming more widely popular. By the middle of the 18th century it was common for friends and lovers to exchange handwritten notes and tokens of affection. By the 1900’s advances in printing meant that printed cards began to replace the handwritten notes, and in a time when direct expressions of emotions were discouraged, ready-made cards were an easy way of expressing emotions. Cheaper postage rates also meant that sending cards was more accessible to the masses.
In the UK yearly, 145million Valentine’s Day cards are bought, second to Christmas this is the most popular event for the card industry. For UK florists Valentine’s Day is their biggest earner of the whole year! With Brits spending £260 million on online bouquets last year. It is estimated that 250 million stems of flowers are sold globally each year on 14th February!
So, do we need to be in a relationship in order to celebrate 14th February? These days no! Those clever marketing brains have come up with ‘Galentine’s Day’. Encouraging single ladies to celebrate their love of their ‘Gal Pal’s’ and why not? 68% of single UK women celebrated ‘Galentine’s Day’ with friends last year, (whereas 69% of single men stayed home alone). It doesn’t stop there. Last year, one in five Brits bought something for their pet, with a total spend of £27 million on pets for Valentine’s Day!
Luckily, these days a card is an acceptable token on Valentines Day, as opposed to a bloody skin! Why not get on board with Valentine’s Day this year, we all love someone so why not let them know! As the Beatles said, ‘All you need is Love’.
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