The 14th February: the day that brings with it a lot of mixed feelings. Some of us feel excitement whilst others feel apprehension, some of us feel happiness whilst others feel loneliness and sadness, and some of us build up romantic ideas of the day whilst some of us panic trying to find a last minute table.

Valentine's Day
Love Locks on Bristol Pero’s Bridge in Bristol city centre. Typically, the key is thrown away to symbolise unbreakable love // Credit: Belinda George


Some claim that the famous Saint Valentine was killed on February the 14th in the third century AD after he disobeyed the Emperor Claudius II and arranged secret marriages. It is said that he fell in love with a jailer’s daughter and before his death signed a letter ‘From your Valentine’.

Another theory of the origins of Valentine’s Day is that it came from a roman festival called Lupercalia, which marked the start of their spring time and was also a celebration of fertility.  One of the rituals in this festival included the boys picking a girl’s name from a box, and they would then be paired together in the hope that they would then marry.

These ancient celebrations and origins of Valentine’s Day are often forgotten and it is interesting to look at how the meaning of Valentine’s has changed. When people think of Valentine’s day, it is unlikely that they will think back to the old Pagan festival or to St Valentine who died because he was letting people marry – now we see Valentine’s day advertised with an abundance of red. Red roses, red hearts, red ribbon, red balloons, red cards. We see cuddly toys and women ogling through shop windows at expensive chocolates, flowers and jewellery.

They claim that around 150 million cards and gifts are sent each year on Valentine’s day – will you receive one of them?

By Tilly Haines