Valentine’s Day is the most romantic day of the year. Traditionally, on February 14th, lovers everywhere exchange gestures of their love for each other in the shape of cards and romantic gifts.
The romance of Valentine's Day is associated with Italian culture and dates back to the third century AD, when Roman Emperor Claudius II had made it illegal for young men to marry, as he claimed single men made better soldiers.
Claudius persecuted the Christian church at the time - and in particular was anti-marriage. He wanted the military to be strong and believed unmarried soldiers fought harder than married ones, because they had less to lose. He feared married soldiers would be worrying about what would happen to their wife and family if they were killed in battle.
Valentine was a young priest, who felt the law was unjust. He decided to defy Claudius by performing wedding ceremonies in secret. However, he was discovered, and his unlawful actions led to his imprisonment and eventually the death sentence.
While in prison, it is said that he befriended a jailer called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. In an act of Christianity, Valentine restored her sight with praying and healing. This was recognised as a miracle and it was said that Asterius became a Christian himself as a result.
In 269AD, Valentine was sentenced to execution. Prior to his public execution on 14th February 270AD, he wrote a letter to Asterius and his daughter. He expressed his fondness for them and signed it, "Your Valentine".
This act has evolved into the global tradition of celebrating love on 14th February every year with romantic cards, gifts and gestures. Valentine is now known as the patron saint of lovers. His remains are said to rest in Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin.
There are many historical documents that support the story of the real-life St Valentine. The Nuremberg Chronicle, a famous book by doctor Hartmann Schedel, published in 1493, relates the universal history of the Christian world. It describes St Valentine as not only illegally marrying Christian couples, but also as helping Christians persecuted by the Roman state in any way that he could.
It also describes how Emperor Claudius actually took a liking to Valentine, and when the priest was awaiting his execution, the emperor offered him a royal pardon if he would denounce his Christian faith. However, Valentine refused and was publicly executed at the Flaminian Gate, at the site of today's Piazza del Popolo in Rome.
Valentine's Day is celebrated all over the world in the 21st century, but has come a long way since its humble beginnings. According to a study carried out by the National Retail Federation in the US in 2017, an amazing $18.2 billion is spent on Valentine's Day across the world.
A massive $2 billion is spent on flowers alone and more than 250 million roses are grown especially for Valentine's Day. Around $1.7 billion is spent on gifts of chocolates, but the most popular gift is jewellery, with 20% of respondents saying they would be buying their loved one a special item.
An amazing 190 million greeting cards are exchanged across the world, with 25 million being sent in the UK alone. Around 75% of men buy their loved one flowers on Valentine’s Day, so it's a very busy time for florists! Two-thirds of respondents said they would be going for a romantic meal for two on the big day, making it the most popular pastime.
A survey also claimed two-thirds of women celebrate Valentine's Day, even if they don’t have a partner or husband, by enjoying a night out with friends or indulging in a pampering session.
Valentine's Day means big business for retailers, especially for those selling greetings cards. To enhance your premises, KAS Shopfittings supplies a wide variety of high-quality shop fittings, including card racks.
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