Valentine’s Day has been a very special day for lovers across the world since the time it came into existence. Story of the origins of Valentine’s Day comes from the time of the Roman Empire, under the rule of Emperor Claudius the Second. It is also linked to the pagan festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on February 15 by young Romans centuries before Christ. The celebration was held in honor of the goddess Februata Juno, and concerned all young people of marriageable age.
In England on St. Valentine’s Day, it was customary for a boy to give the girl of his choice a love token, usually a pair of gloves. It was not until the 15thC that the first greeting card was produced because, until that time, parchment was scarce and the majority of people were illiterate.
The Valentine greetings took on a much more delicate form in Victorian times. They were often made out of lace paper, velvet and satin ribbons, embossed with the best quality material. These cards often had trick or secret panels in them, hiding secret messages to the girls concerned.
In other parts of Britain, presents were distributed: in Peterborough, sweet plum buns called Valentine Buns were made and eaten; in Uppingham, gingerbread was given to lovers; in Rutland, buns shaped like a weaver’s shuttle and called a Plum Shuttles’ were made and are still being made for children on this day.
In Italy, Valentine’s Day was celebrated as a Spring Festival, held in the open air, where young people would gather in tree arbors or ornamental gardens to listen to music and poetry recitals. However, over the course of the years, this custom steadily ceased. In Turin, it was formerly the custom for betrothed couples to announce their engagements on February 14. A very popular Valentine’s gift among the Italians has been the Baci Perugina, which is a small chocolate enclosed with a hazelnut. It also includes a small slip of paper, containing loving lyrical quotes.
The Danish Valentine greeting card was known as a “lover’s card.” Older versions of this greeting came in transparent form which when held up to the light, depicted the image of a lover handing his beloved a gift. Another custom in Denmark was for people to send pressed white flowers called Snowdrops to their sweethearts.
During the Australian gold rush period, miners who suddenly came to acquire money from the new-found wealth of the Ballarat Mines willingly paid a princely sum for elaborate valentine’s gifts. Merchants in the country would ship orders amounting to thousands of pounds at a time. The most extravagant Australian valentines were made of satin cushion, perfumed and decorated in an ornate manner with flowers and colored shells.
Along with giving gifts, sending flowers on Valentine’s Day has been an age old tradition. It continues being the most popular way for lover’s to express their love and affection for one another. Although rose is the traditional Valentine’s Day flower lover’s across the world also send and gift bouquets of lilies, carnations, tulips and orchids to their sweethearts. Though the passion of the flaming red roses always works wonders, sometimes it is the purity of the lily or the beauty of the carnation in all its glory that attracts and fascinates the romantics.