If you were wondering about the history of Valentine's Day, listen to the audio or read everything you need to know about the origins of Valentine's Day and some fun facts below...
ENGLISH TEACHERS: if you want to use this post in class, click here for a free downloadable Lesson Plan using this material, which includes lots of class activities
Valentine's Day facts and history transcription
- Ich liebe dich (German)
- Je t’aime (French)
- Ti amo (Italian)
- Te quiero (Spanish)
- Mina rakastan sinua (Finnish)
- Ya tebya liubliu (Russian)
- Wo ai ni (Mandarin Chinese)
- Szeretlek (Hungarian)
- ‘Rwy’n dy garu (Welsh)
No matter how you say it, if someone holds a special place in your heart, then today is the day to say ‘I love you’.
St. Valentine’s Day on February 14th is the day, of course, when people traditionally express their love and affection for each other in a variety of ways.
The origins of the day are unknown. A legend that may, or may not be true is that there was a priest called Valentine, who served in Rome during the third century. At this time, Emperor Claudius II thought that single men without wives and children made better soldiers, so he made marriage illegal for young men.
However, Valentine secretly continued to perform marriage for young couples, until he was discovered and was sentenced to death by Claudius. On the night before his execution in 270 AD, Valentine sent the first ‘Valentine card’ himself from his prison cell. While he had been awaiting his fate, a young girl had kept visiting him and Valentine had fallen in love with her.
It is alleged that the letter he sent signed off with, “From your Valentine”, which is the expression still used today in millions of cards around the world.
In the middle ages, the French and the English believed that February 14th was the beginning of birds’ mating season. This reinforced the idea that the day should be considered as romantic.
By the time the 18th Century came around, it was quite common for people of all social classes in Great Britain to show their lovers their affection by giving them handwritten notes.
Towards the end of the century, ready-made cards were being produced and sold in England, which avoided the problem of social disapproval for showing one’s emotions in public.
In America, it wasn’t until the 1840s that the first mass-produced cards went on sale. Nowadays, it is estimated that around one billion cards are sent on Valentine’s day, which makes it the second highest card sending day of the year: approximately 2.6 billion cards are sent at Christmas. Unsurprisingly, it is thought that women purchase around 85% of Valentine’s cards.
In a survey carried out by The American Retail Association in 2010, results showed that on average, Americans spend $103 on Valentine’s Day. Just over 50% send cards, 47% choose chocolates and 36% of respondents said that they send flowers.
If you are a bit strapped for cash, then I’ve got a cheaper alternative for you. Why don’t you write a love list?
Write down 10 things that you adore about your partner and put it under their pillow, or somewhere secret like inside their bag, or in their cupboard/locker/desk. If you can’t think of 10 things and numbers 8, 9 and 10 are things like….you can read, you are always on time, you’ve still got all your teeth, then just write 5 things instead!
Happy Valentine’s Day!