Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Every February 14th millions of us gift flowers, chocolates, and jewellery—all in the name of love.
But how, you may ask, did this day of love come to be?
Saint Valentine, a priest from 3rd century Rome, is the man most commonly associated with fathering Valentines Day.
Emperor Claudius, the ruler of the time, was of the opinion that single men made better soldiers than those that were married and with children, so he passed a law making it illegal for young men to marry.
Valentine believed this was a great injustice to love and continued to marry young couples in secret.
Learning of his defiance, Claudius ordered Valentine be put to death.
Legend has it, while Valentine awaited execution in jail, he fell in love with the jailer's daughter and sent her secret love letters signed “from your Valentine”.
Valentine's execution was carried out on February 14th. Two centuries later, the Vatican declared February 14th the Feast of Saint Valentine in honour of the martyred saints' dedication to love and marriage.
During the Middle Ages in France and England, it was thought that February 14th was the beginning of the birds mating season, which symbolised love and fertility. Pieced together with the legend of Saint Valentine, it was decided February 14th should be celebrated as a day of love.
The tradition of expressing love on Valentine's Day has grown in popularity ever since. The very first Valentine’s Day card was believed to have been sold in 1840. Today, around 1 billion cards and gifts are exchanged each year.
So whatever your plans may be this Valentine's Day, don't forget to show a little love to those around you, and most importantly, to yourself!