Feb 12, 2012

Valentine’s Day: commercial nonsense or ancient tradition?

Reading: Chain Reaction by Zoe Archer
Watching: Grimm
Listening to: Dora the Explorer
Making me smile: My little boy pointing…at everything…all the time

Last month, I blogged on the history of the New Year’s Resolution. This month, with my blog post so close to Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share the history of the day many claim was invented by florists or greeting card makers.

Here are a few interesting facts:

~ February 14th first became linked with the celebration of love in Ancient Rome. From Feb 13 through 15, they celebrated Lupercalia – a pagan fertility festival. Boy, we have a lot to thank the Romans for!

~ Around 496 AD, Pope Gelasius fought to suppress Lupercalia and declared February 14th St Valentine’s Day – a Christian feast day to honour St Valentine.

~ 1382 AD, Geoffrey Chaucer linked St Valentine’s Day and love in a poem he wrote to celebrate the engagement of Richard II of England.

Image - public domain

So, for the romantics out there, let that special someone know you love them tomorrow and know that you’re following in the footsteps of the Romans.

For the V Day naysayers, have my fast history facts changed your thoughts on the holiday of love?

To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
— Hamlet by William Shakespeare


  1. I am a card junkie so any time I get to send or receive cards is a good time. Valentine's is one of my favorite times. When I was little one of my uncles who never sent anything out at Christmas would send each of us a Valentine's card with a two dollar bill in it. Back in the 50's two dollars bought a lot of stuff.

    Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

  2. Love your facts, Anna. And the Hamlet quote.
    Happy Valentine's Day to all.

  3. Trust those Romans to come up with something that's so much...fun. ;-)

    Thanks, Anna. Hope you have a delicious Valentine's Day!

  4. Trust those Romans to come up with something that's so much...fun. ;-)

    Thanks, Anna. Hope you have a delicious Valentine's Day!

  5. Oops, sorry, seems Blogger is making multiple copies of me. :-)

  6. I knew a bit of the history, but it's great to see it laid out like that. Thanks, Anna!

    I like Valentine's Day - we don't do anything big, but we always at least swap chocolates or a card. Sometimes dh will pick flowers from the garden, sometimes we'll have a special breakfast together. Whatever suits!

  7. I love Valentines day! Thanks for sharing those facts Anna.

  8. Hi Kaelee --
    What a great story and a wonderful memory! It's nice to hear Valentine's Day is special to you.

    Happy V Day!

  9. Hi Robena --
    The Hamlet quote is great, isn't it? Happy V Day to you too.

  10. Hi Michelle --
    Wonder where we'd be today without those busy Romans? I don't have any special plans for V Day...just some time with hubby once our little man goes to bed.

  11. Hi Rachel --
    Sounds like a lovely way to spend Valentine's Day. We always at least swap cards.

  12. You're welcome, Helen. Have a lovely Valentine's Day.

  13. I so want it to be more about the LOVE than the commercialism, but my inner cynic says my inner romancer is deluding herself. Sad!!

  14. Hi Marybelle --
    Oh, we all have those inner cynics! I hope your Valentine's Day is LOVEly!

  15. Happy Valentine's Day, Anna! And everyone else!

    I'm enjoying your posts about traditions, Anna! I hadn't known any of the Valentine's Day history!


  16. Great to read those traditions, Anna. The Romans have a lot to answer for! This is one of their better donations to our world, even if it has been taken over by the commercial world.

  17. Anna, I'm a big fan of Valentine's Day! I'm also a huge fan of history, so thank you for shedding this light on a day we celebrate romance. And florists make a mint! =)

  18. Hi Sharon --
    Happy Valentine's Day! I'm a bit of an ancient history buff...I always need to know the history of things.

  19. Hi Sue --
    We defintely have a lot to thank the Romans for -- plumbing and underfloor heating come to mind (-: Thankfully gladitorial sports didn't catch on!!

  20. Hi Robyn --
    Happy V Day! I loved reading your very romantic post. Hope you had a lovely day with your hubby.

  21. Hi Anna,

    for me V-Day is ancient tradition ;)

    so many people still believe and waiting this moment ;)