Different nations celebrate the holiday in different ways. For instance, in Japan and South Korea, it’s a tradition for women to give gifts to men they like.
In Slovenia, the day is a celebration of St. Valentine, one of the patron saints of spring. That makes it a prime day for working in the fields. The tradition of a day of romance is celebrated in the country a month later on St. Gregory’s Day. In Denmark, rather than giving roses, friends and sweethearts alike exchange snowdrops, which are native white flowers that are pressed flat to preserve them.
In the Philippines, mass wedding ceremonies often take place on 14 February, as the day has become incredibly popular for exchanging vows.
If you’ve ever visited Italy, you know that Italians are serious about their food. So it should come as no surprise that the most popular way to celebrate this holiday is with a romantic dinner out.
In Norfolk, a character called ‘Jack’ Valentine knocks on the rear door of houses leaving sweets and presents for children. Although he was leaving treats, many children were scared of this mystical person.
In north Wales couples are giving each other love spoons. These wooden spoons are adorned with patterns and symbols, each with its own meaning. Today, these spoons are also exchanged for births, weddings, and anniversaries.
In the UK, Valentine’s Day dates back to the Victorian Era, when anonymous Valentine greetings were first sent by men and women alike to their romantic interests. The UK was also the first country to start the tradition of giving roses to the person you love on Valentine’s Day.
In 1382, the poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem in celebration of the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, which occurred on St. Valentine’s Day.
In his poem, Parlement of Foules, he said, “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day when every bird cometh to choose his mate.”
A Frenchman by the name of Charles, the Duke of Orleans, is credited with sending the first love note. He did so in 1415 while he was stuck in a prison cell in the Tower of London. In his note, he referred to his wife as “my very sweet Valentine.”
By 1601, the tradition of calling a loved one your Valentine and sending love notes had officially begun.
In most cases, these love notes were passed by hand. But when the Penny Post was added to the Royal Mail Service in 1840, sending letters became affordable for the masses. This made it possible to begin sending anonymous St. Valentine’s Day cards.
Around the same time, printers across the UK began mass-producing so-called “mechanical valentines.” These were a lot like the boxed cards sold in every store around the holiday today.
In 1797, a British publisher issued The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which contained scores of suggested sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own. Printers had already begun producing a limited number of cards with verses and sketches, called “mechanical valentines.” Paper Valentines became so popular in England in the early 19th century that they were assembled in factories. Fancy Valentines were made with real lace and ribbons, with paper lace introduced in the mid-19th century. In the United States, the first mass-produced Valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828–1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father operated a large book and stationery store, but Howland took her inspiration from an English Valentine she had received from a business associate of her father. Intrigued with the idea of making similar Valentines, Howland began her business by importing paper lace and floral decorations from England.
The Contours: Do You Love Me
Caro Emerald: Black Valentine
Thundercat: For Love I Come
Martina Topley–Bird: Valentine
Say Yes Dog: Girlfriend
Gene Williams: Don’t Let Your Love Fade Away
Holy Other: Your Love
Röyksopp: Someone Like Me
SBTRKT: If It Happens
Lana Del Rey: Love
Robyn: Hang With Me (acoustic version)
Chat Baker: My Funny Valentine
Oscar Peterson: Easy to Love
A community radio midnight show Through the Bohemian Looking Glass is aired Sunday, Tuesday and Friday night at midnight (GMT), that means you stay late on Saturday, Monday and Thursday. A new episode is aired every Sunday midnight on Wirral Wave radio or AirTime. Later on SoundCloud for some time.