Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The History of Valentine's Day

“For this was on seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make [mate].”

- Geoffry Chaucer, The Parliament of Fowles, 1380

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I got to wondering where this tradition of gift exchange between lovers originates. Apparently, the first recorded mention of Valentine’s Day goes back to the 14th century, when Chaucer wrote of the holiday as a day when birds come together to choose their mates. But when I started to delve deeper into the history books, I found that the origins of the holiday are a combination of history and legend.

Historically, Valentine was a priest in the third century who lived under the Roman Empire. When Claudius II made marriage illegal for young soldiers, Valentine continued to marry young lovers in secret. Once his actions were revealed, the matchmaker was sentenced to death. The story goes that when he was in prison, he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter and wrote her a love-letter signed “From your Valentine”. Saint Valentine was executed on February 14, 269 A.D. and we continue to celebrate this day to commemorate his devotion to bringing lovers together.

Hundreds of years later, people are still inspired by Saint Valentine, exchanging over 180 million Valentine’s cards on February 14. For your own Valentine inspiration, you can visit our Valentine in Montreal page for a variety of gifts from a unique Love Basket to a traditional Rose Bouquet. Now that you know the original story of Valentine, I am curious to know about your own personal Valentine’s stories. What’s the most unique gift you’ve ever received or what was your best Valentine’s surprise?


Anonymous said...

Very nice story!