Valentine’s Day, a festival to celebrate romantic love. Many believe that it is very important to celebrate Valentine’s Day, although some say that every day you can spend with your beloved should be a holiday. Valentine’s Day became increasingly popular in many countries around the world by the second half of the 20th century. This day is now celebrated as the day of romantic love when lovers exchange gifts.

The Feast of Saint Valentine coincides with the start of waiting for spring and falls during the carnival season of weddings; Saint Valentine has most likely become the patron saint of lovers owing to the calendar coincidence, first in Italy and later in England and France. The folk customs date back to ancient Rome: The Roman festival of Lupercalia was celebrated in mid-February, primarily connected with purification and fertility rites.

The celebration of Valentine’s Day originates in 15th-century England. Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to associate romantic love with the Feast of Saint Valentine in his poem Parliament of Fowls written in 1374–82 that shows the influence of Italian sources. Besides the English, other peoples, including the Croats, believe that birds get married on Valentine’s Day.

Initially, men wrote love notes to those they desired or brought them beautiful flower bouquets. The tradition of giving flowers can be traced back to when, in 1667, poet Samuel Pepys’ wife, Elizabeth Pepys gave his husband a bouquet of flowers in return of his love letter.

It grew into an occasion in which English nobles exchanged love letters and flowers. English emigrants then took the Valentine’s custom to the United States, and Valentine’s Day has become widely considered the most romantic holiday of the year in the USA. During the Second World War, US soldiers brought this festival to Europe.

The first Valentine’s Day Ball took place in Nuremberg, Germany, and that was when 14 February was formally declared to be the day of love. Since then, the biggest floral holiday is Valentine’s Day, but we can also see a sharp increase in the sales of popular gifts for Valentine’s Day such as perfumes and chocolates.

The holiday began as a Christian feast day commemorating a martyr persecuted as a Christian named Valentine who came to be the patron saint of lovers. His feast day in the Roman Catholic Church is 14 February. It is Valentine’s name day and also the day of love.

Saint Valentine was the bishop of Terni (then Interamna), Italy in the 3rd century. Much later, in the 14th century, Saint Valentine was designated the patron saint of engaged couples and newlyweds.

Valentine, remained faithful to the Catholic Church as a bishop, believed in human rights. Since Emperor Claudius II (268–270) was of the opinion that unmarried men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine felt that the decree was unjust and unfair and continued to perform marriages for young couples, even for soldiers, in secret. He gave the newlyweds flowers from his very own garden.

When Claudius II discovered this treason, he imprisoned the priest. While in jail, Valentine had befriended his jailer and restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter with his prayers and faith. Before his execution, the bishop wrote a note to the jailer’s daughter, signing it, ‘from your Valentine’.

In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius eliminated the pagan celebration of Lupercalia and declared 14 February a day to honour Saint Valentine instead, who would become the patron saint of lovers. This day has become the day of love and is now widely celebrated all over the world.

The tradition of giving flowers on 14 February is also linked to 3rd-century bishop Valentine.

Valentine’s Day is the number one holiday for florists all over the world. Flowers have different meanings depending upon their type and colour, while the colour and fragrance of flowers have an immediate impact on your loved ones. The fragrance of hyacinth is irresistible, making it the best choice when it comes to evoking feelings of love and romance. The mildness and discreet fragrance of tulips warm the heart of anyone who receives them. Fragrant freesia kindles your imagination and energise your day, while gifting elegant red roses is a confess of passionate love. Roses were the favourite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, thus symbolising confession of love.

The number of roses in a bouquet also has a meaning of its own: a single rose represents a brief romance, while a pair of roses conveys sorry. A bouquet of twelve roses accompanies a wedding proposal. Thirty-six roses symbolise deep and genuine love.

Valentine’s traditions and customs vary from country to country: In South Korea and Japan, only women give gifts, and men give response gifts on White Day. Couples from all over the country come to Terni, Italy to publicly announce their betrothal before the alleged grave of San Valentino in the local basilica.

San Valentino’s skull

San Valentino’s flower-adorned skull can be found in a side altar of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. According to legend, the skull was discovered during an excavation near Rome in the 1800s. His other skeletal remains discovered during the excavation were distributed to other countries around the world. Other parts of his skeleton can be viewed in Ireland, Scotland, England, France and the Czech Republic.