Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day is the most romantic day of the year when love is most definitely in the air. On 14th February people in the UK send over 25 million Valentine’s cards to their sweethearts. But why do we celebrate this date and what is the significance of sending Valentine’s cards?

Who was St Valentine?

According to some accounts, St Valentine was a Roman priest who was martyred in 270. Other reports state that he was the bishop of Terni in Italy, who was also martyred in the third century. Legend states that Valentine defied the decree of Emperor Claudius, which outlawed marriage among younger citizens. Claudius believed that married men made poor soldiers, but Valentine went against this law and carried out wedding ceremonies in secret. Valentine was subsequently imprisoned and fell in love with the daughter of his jailer. He sent a letter to her which was signed “from your Valentine”, setting the precedent that we still follow today. 

Romantic gestures from history

The oldest known Valentine’s message still in existence is a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife in 1415. Titled A Farewell to Love, it was composed when he was jailed in the Tower of London after being captured at the Battle of Agincourt.

The sending of Valentine’s cards became hugely popular in Victorian times. In fact, postal workers became so busy that they were given a special meal allowance to maintain their energy in the run-up to 14th February. The Victorians also popularised the practice giving of chocolates and flowers as romantic gifts.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in various ways around the world. In Denmark, couples send one another pressed flowers, while in Germany it is customary to give pig-themed gifts as pigs are said to represent luck and lust. In Ghana and Japan the focus is very much on giving chocolate to your loved one.

Gift inspiration for Valentine’s Day

If you’re looking for some inspiration for a Valentine’s Day gift, then Real Foods can help! From natural perfume to pampering gift sets and decadent vegan truffles, there’s plenty to choose from. A little-known fact about St Valentine is that he is the patron saint of beekeepers. So if you’re looking for an unusual Valentine’s Day gift, perhaps you could give some honey to your sweetheart or maybe some beauty products made from beeswax?

This Valentine’s Day, show the one you love how much you care with a gift that’s straight from the heart.

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