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History of Valentine's Day

History of Valentine's Day

This holiday doesn’t have a deep religious history. Its history is very romantic. The holiday got its name in honor of the Christian martyr Valentine sentenced by Roman pagans to death. In the III century A.D. the Roman Emperor Claudius edited a decree forbidding marriages. He thought that marriages held soldiers at home and didn’t give them the opportunity to be good warriors. But the young priest called Valentine wreathed the pairs secretly.

When Claudius found out that the priest didn’t obey his decree, he put Valentine into prison and sentenced him to death. In prison Valentine wrote messages to the jailer’s daughter. Young people fell in love with each other in spite of grim conditions and close death. Before the execution in the 14th of February, 270 he sent his girl a short farewell note with the words “from Valentine” that afterwards began to mean eternal attachment, faith and love.

According to church tradition St. Valentine was a priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D. At that time the Roman Emperor Claudius-II who had issued an edict forbidding marriage. This was around when the heyday of Roman Empire had almost come to an end. Lack of quality administrators led to frequent civil strife. Learning declined, taxation increased, and trade slumped to a low, precarious level. And the Gauls, Slavs, Huns, Turks and Mongolians from Northern Europe and Asian increased their pressure on the empire’s boundaries. The empire was grown too large to be shielded from external aggression and internal chaos with existing forces. Thus more of capable men were required to be recruited as soldiers and officers. When Claudius became the emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, will not make good soldiers. So to assure quality soldiers, he banned marriage. Valentine, a bishop, seeing the trauma of young lovers, met them in a secret place, and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. Claudius learned of this “friend of lovers” and had him arrested. The emperor, impressed with the young priest’s dignity and conversation, attempted to convert him to the roman gods, to save him from certain execution. Valentine refused to recognize Roman Gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully. On February 24, 270, Valentine was executed.

The traditions of this holiday

Great Britain

In Great Britain on the eve of St. Valentine’s Day, women used to pin four bay leaves to the corner of their pillow and then eat boiled eggs with salt. They believed they would dream of their future husbands. Another custom was to write the names of eligible young men on pieces of paper and stick them to balls of clay. They would then drop them into water and watch and wait. The first name to rise would, they believed, be their future husband. These days it is more customary to send your secret love an unsigned greetings card, in the hope that he or she will know who sent it and send a card in return.

United States of America

Most people in the United States treat Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to express their feelings towards their loved one or to offer the hand of friendship to others. However, a popular trend these days is to send an ‘anti-Valentine’ card. These cards either contain an insulting message (to your enemy) or say goodbye 9to your existing partner) . If you receive a card with the message C-Ya! (See you!), it means your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to end your relationship.


Young German men present their loved ones with a beautiful bouquet of flowers on Valentine’s Day, along with a message of love. They must remember, though, to give an odd number (1,2,5 etc.) and not an even number,, otherwise it could bring them bad luck.


A long time ago, the French custom for Valentine’s Day involved young women going into one house and young men going into another house, opposite the first house. They would then call out of the windows to each other. If, in the end, the man was not attracted to his partner, he would desert her. Later on in the day, a bonfire would be lit and the women would insult and burn images of the young men who had deserted them.


There is a custom in Italy for young couples to get engaged on Valentine’s Day. Some shops sell china baskets and cups which are filled with sweets and tied with ribbons. The young romantics offer these to each other as a token of their love.


In Denmark, people swap poems and sweets. Some people also send joke cards, which are called gaekkbrev, and instead of writing their name, they sign it in dots. If the person who receives the card correctly guesses the identity of the sender, they will get a candy egg from the sender at Easter time.


The Chinese celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th, but they also celebrate a special Valentine’s Day on July 7th of the Chinese lunar calendar. This celebration comes from a Chinese fairy tale from a long time ago. It is the only night in the year when two stars meet in the skies above. One star represents a shepherd boy and the other is his love, a weaver.


In Japan there are two Valentine’s Days. The first is on February 14th and the other is on March 14th. On February 14th women give chocolates not only to their boyfriends but also to their bosses and to boys who are friends. The men don’t have to give anything. On March 14th, which is called ‘White Day’, the men must buy chocolates (or other sweets) for their girlfriends or wives.

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