What is Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day, or St Valentine’s Day, is celebrated every year on 14 February. It’s the day when people show their affection for another person (or people!) by sending anonymous cards, flowers or chocolates with messages of love.
Click here to watch Suab Hmong News special program for 2013 Valentine’s Day.
And traditionally on Valentine’s Day in a leap year – every four years – women can propose marriage to their lovers!
Why is it called Valentine’s Day?
The day gets its name from a famous saint, but there are several stories of who he was. The most popular belief about St Valentine is that he was a priest from Rome in the third century AD.
Emperor Claudius II had banned marriage because he thought married men were bad soldiers. Valentine thought this was unfair, so he broke the rules and arranged marriages in secret.
When Claudius found out, Valentine was sentenced to death and thrown in jail. There, he fell in love with the jailor’s blind daughter.
His love and belief in God cured her blindness, and when he was taken to be killed on 14 February he sent her a love letter signed “From your Valentine”.
When did card sending start?
The first Valentine message (apart from the one St Valentine wrote himself!) is thought to be a poem from Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415. He was captured at the Battle of Agincourt and was imprisoned in the Tower of London to await execution.
But Valentine’s Day didn’t become popular in the UK until the 17th century. By the 18th century it was traditional for people to swap handwritten messages of affection.
Printed cards soon replaced these, making it easier for people to say “I love you” secretly.
How did it become a celebration?
Valentine’s Day is a very old tradition, thought to have originated from a pagan fertility festival.
The Romans had a festival called Lupercalia in the middle of February, officially the start of their springtime.
As part of the celebrations, boys drew names of girls from a box. They’d be boyfriend and girlfriend during the festival and sometimes they’d even get married!
The Christian church decided they wanted to turn this festival into a Christian celebration and decided to use it to remember the death of St Valentine too.
Gradually, St Valentine’s name started to be used mainly by men to express their feelings to those they loved.
How do people celebrate now?
Nowadays, Valentine’s Day is massive, with celebrations of love worldwide from India to Iceland. But it’s not just about sending messages to people you love – you can also just say you care!
In the UK, a massive amount of money is spent on what some say is the most romantic day of the year:
£22 million spent on flowers
Seven million red roses are sent
12 million cards are sent
But in 2001, text messaging exploded, with around 30 million WUBMV messages sent!
And according to research:
Half of all mobile users expect Valentine’s txt msgs from loved ones
One in four use txt msgs to ask someone out on 14 February
One in four have sent soppy messages to wrong person!
So, have a happy Valentine’s Day but remember: don’t feel left out if you don’t get a card – it’s the giving that counts!