We all know Valentine’s Day as that day in the middle of February where loved ones take the time to show each other love and appreciation through gifts, fancy dinners and romantic gestures. Kids at school take the time to make cards for each other (and their secret crushes), romantic partners order flowers and partake in fancy dinners and, of course, there are those who go completely against the theme of romance to binge horror films and engage in other non-romantic activities to show their opposition to the tradition.
But where did Valentine’s Day traditions originate? It may surprise some of you to know that Valentine’s Day did not start out as a Hallmark Holiday, as some would believe, but that it has a rather long and complex history. That is not to say that big corporations did not play a part in the evolution of the holiday over the years, but it certainly has more rooted traditions than merely a way to exploit the public for profit.
Some people choose not to celebrate the holiday, arguing that love and gratitude are to be shown day in and day out, not just on a designated calendar date. However, those who do enjoy indulging in the tradition often look for something special to treat their partner to, something they can cherish. In this post, we will look at the origin of Valentine’s Day, how traditions have evolved through time and explore a variety of unique gift options to help you spoil your partner this year.
Valentine’s Day Wasn’t Always About Romance & Love
Historians often argue about the exact origin of Valentine’s Day, while some believe it comes from St. Valentine who was executed on February 14th, others believe it is an extension of the Lupercalia festival. This festival was an annual pagan celebration, which can be traced back as early as the 6th Century BC. The festival involved random matchmaking and was charged with violence and animal sacrifice in an effort to ward off evil spirits and infertility. Women would spend the evening lined up waiting to be hit by the men with hides from the sacrificed animals, usually a dog and a goat, with the belief that it would make them more fertile. The pairings would then spend the rest of the evening together, and could even end up with a lifetime of love, should the match be right. How romantic!
The alternative theory is that of St. Valentine, or of two Valentines. After all, there were two instances of someone by the name of Valentine being executed by Emperor Claudius II on February 14th over the years. However, the theory follows that of St. Valentine of Terni, a martyr from the Catholic Church. It is said that, against the emperor’s wishes, he had been officiating weddings for Roman soldiers. This act of love, putting his own life at risk, led the church to honor St. Valentine by naming the anniversary of his execution “St. Valentine’s Day” and turning it into a day of love.
How Valentine’s Day Traditions Have Evolved
As the years went on, Shakespeare started romanticizing the holiday in his work by writing love notes and poems. This went on to gain popularity across Europe and the UK. In the late 1800’s, Valentine’s Day reached America. Esther Howland published the first American valentine in 1849, with Hallmark gaining an interest and offering their first card in 1913. This Kansas based company, which would eventually go on to be somewhat of an empire, started mass-producing Valentine’s Cards in 1916. The holiday is now celebrated in a large number of countries around the world, and the rest is history.
Valentine's Day Gift Ideas in 2021
There’s nothing wrong with treating your loved one to a nice dinner out, some flowers and a nice bit of chocolate. But, after the events of 2020, we think everyone deserves a little extra attention this year. As a result, we’ve pulled together some of our top choices for unique Valentine’s Day gifts below.
What’s more romantic than the whole wide world?
If you and your partner love to travel, this levitating globe, complete with LED lights, is about as romantic and unique as you can get.
The flower that will last forever
Or how about a Swarovski crystal enchanted rose? For $160, you can treat your partner to their everlasting rose of love, without the witch’s curse, wilting petals or talking candlestick.
A piece of your heart
If you’re looking for something that can stay a little closer to your love’s heart, we highly recommend our heart-shaped ‘love’ pendant available in 14KT yellow, white or rose gold and sterling silver. Sure to put a smile on their face, your partner can carry a part of you with them wherever they go and this is a piece of jewelry they can add to their collection and cherish forever.
Laughter and Cookies
Does your partner prefer to cozy up with a sweet treat? This Manhattan-based bakery can create cookies with your partner’s face on it! They’re extremely popular, and they’re ridiculously accurate. After all, it’s what they do. Check out The Funny Face Bakery.
From the whipping of women with sacrificial goat hides, to secret Roman weddings, to cookies with our partner’s face on it, Valentine’s Day has certainly come a long way over the years. We’re all for celebrating love and showing people what they mean to us all year round, but just for one special day a year, it’s nice to create your own traditions as a couple, family, or even as an individual. Whether that be with chocolate, a fine piece of jewelry or even a zombie film, love comes in all shapes and sizes and you are allowed to celebrate it in any way that works for you.