It’s that time of year when love is in the air and, like it or not, the supermarkets have turned into a sea of red and pink with aisles full of greetings cards, chocolates and flowers. But what is the history behind Valentine’s Day, and what led to it becoming a firm fixture in our calendars every year?
These days, Valentine’s Day (or St. Valentine’s Day, to give it the more formal name) is a day when some couples choose to show their love for each other by exchanging gifts and greetings cards. As the name suggests, it’s possible it’s linked to a real-life saint called St. Valentine, but exactly who he was (there are three candidates!) is a little murky!
One thing is certain, and that’s that Valentine’s Day could have roots in both Ancient Roman and Christianity celebrations. Some point to the 14th of February as being the anniversary of St. Valentine’s burial or death, while others say the date was originally marking the Roman celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, which falls between the 13th and 15th of February, Lupercalia was a fertility festival, and some historians say that the Christian church adopted and ‘Christianised’ it by calling it St. Valentine’s Day, a little like they did with Christmas!
It’s certainly true that at the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February the 14th St. Valentine’s Day and outlawed Lupercalia celebrations for good. However, it wasn’t until a lot later that the day became associated with love as opposed to mourning a dead saint… In the Middle Ages people in France and England believed that February the 14th marked the start of the birds’ mating season, a day for romance. It was after 1400 that written Valentine’s messages began to appear, and the oldest known valentine (which is still in the British Library today) is a poem written by the Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.
It was hundreds of years later that Valentine’s Day started to be widely celebrated here in the UK, with records of messages being passed between upper class lovers (most likely the upper classes because they could read and write…) in the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th century, it had become more common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes on Valentine’s Day. The Victorians used printed cards to replace their written letters, and the commercialisation of Valentine’s Day had begun. Now it’s celebrated around the world and over 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent in the USA alone! The 14th of February is also a popular date for people to get married in the Philippines with mass weddings taking place across the country. So, if you’re not keen on this very romantic day, maybe avoid heading there for a holiday in mid-February!
Valentine’s Day gift ideas from Hayfield England
If you’re searching high and low for something special to give your partner this Valentine’s Day, here are our top three gifts for him and for her from across our website:
- A newsboy cap in tweed or leather - if your man loves to rock a Peaky Blinders style or fancies himself as a David Beckham–style country gent, this style of headwear is perfect for him. Plus, the unisex style means it works for ladies too, should you fancy borrowing it!
- A handcrafted pen made from a gleaming rifle casing with a finish in gold, rose gold, gunmetal, silver and black. If you know someone loves his shooting and appreciates fine stationery, this is the perfect gift.
- Our 20-bore cufflinks with glittering Swarovski crystals are available in antique bronze or silver finish, these are a perfect addition to an outfit for a hunt ball, smart dinner or date night!
- A chic navy blue fedora with a black leather band and a coordinating feather pin! This is such a wonderfully versatile colour, and the addition of a black band means you can pair it with black boots and a black handbag if you like!
- A luxurious silk pillowcase for the ultimate skin and hair-boosting night’s sleep. Our pillowcases are crafted from a luxury 22- Momme, 100% pure mulberry silk which is kind to your skin and your hair - choose from white or silver.
- Choose from 20 different colours of silk scrunchie for a gift which is on trend, stylish and helps protect hair from breakage. We adore the animal print and blush pink colours - what about you?