The History of Valentine’s Day

By Blake Peroumal

What do chocolates, flowers and insufferable sums of PDA have in common?  You guessed it, Valentine’s Day.

In today’s bright new world Valentine’s Day acts as a symbol of flourishing love, and an opportunity for businesses in the retail industry to spark growth. Although the 14th of February has been reserved as a day for spreading love and candy hearts, its origins follow a different path, being surprisingly bizarre and a little bit twisted.

Here are a few fun facts about the history of Valentine’s Day.

St Valentine – The Ultimate Wingman

During the third century in Rome, Emperor Claudius II believed that young men made better soldiers when they weren’t distracted by the opposite sex, and therefore declared marriage to be forbidden. As a firm believer of true love, St Valentine defied Claudius and wedded young couples in secret. Unfortunately, his attempt to ‘stick it to the man’ did not end in rose petals and chocolates. When St Valentine was discovered, he paid the ultimate price for his defiance and was killed.

Early Valentine’s Day Festivities

In early years, Valentine’s Day was closely tied with the pagan fertility festival, Lupercalia. This celebratory occasion involved the priests of Luperci sacrificing a goat, removing its hide, and gently slapping it against the local field crops and Roman citizens.  Thankfully we no longer use this system to show our love for one another, instead opting for more conventional gifts such as heart-shaped chocolates, beautiful bouquets and cleverly worded cards.

Commercial Juggernaut

The perpetual growth of Valentine’s Day resulted from industry thinkers seeing potential where no one else did. One trendsetter was Richard Cadbury, second of Cadbury chocolate founder who established the firm association between Valentine’s Day and chocolate. Richard came up with the idea of selling heart-shaped chocolates in bite-sized packaging on Valentine’s Day. This trend skyrocketed and is seen as one of the early novelties that led to the drastic commercialisation of Valentine’s Day.

In 2016 the US’s average spend on the 14th of February was $147, with $4.5 billion going to the jewellery industry and $1.9 billion being spent on flowers!

No matter what your views of Valentine’s Day may be, it cannot be denied that it has become a commercial juggernaut that generates millions of smiles and depleted bank accounts across the world.

So all you budding entrepreneurs out there be sure to widen your spectrum and seize the business opportunities that present themselves on this joyful holiday.


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