Valentine’s Day Traditions: Flowers, Gifts, Cards, and Proposals

Lovers all over the world plan for weeks to make Valentine’s Day, February 14th, the most perfect romantic day. Traditionally lovers exchange flowers, gifts, and cards. Some even ask their partner to marry them.

Single people try to celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day by arranging a romantic date. This custom is said to originate in the English folklore belief that birds choose their mate for the year on February 14th. In parts of Sussex, Valentine’s Day used to be called the Bird’s Wedding Day.

History of Valentine’s Day

Saint Valentine’s Day is a Christian feast day that is celebrated on February 14th. The feast was established Pope Gelasius in 500 AD, naming it after one or more early Christian martyrs called Valentine (it was a common name amongst Christians).

Pope Paul VI removed the Feast of Saint Valentine from the General Roman Calendar in 1969 due to the lack of information about the Saint, although its religious observance is still allowed.

The poem Parlement of Foules, written by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1382, if the first known link of romance to Valentine’s Day:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day

Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

In modern English this is:

For this was Saint Valentine’s Day

When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.

The poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia.

Valentine’s Day Flowers

Sending or giving flowers on Valentine’s Day carries huge symbolism with each type of flower, and sometimes their color, having its own meaning. Red roses, which mean “True Love”, are the most common flowers given on Valentine’s Day. Beware, however, because white roses mean “I love you not”.

Sending 10 roses means “You are perfect”, sending 12 roses mean “Be mine”, and sending 24 roses mean “Forever yours”.

Valentine’s Day is the most important day of the year for florists, with 32% of annual sales of annual sales. 73% of these flowers are bought by men, and 27% by women.

Valentine’s Day Gifts

The tradition of exchanging gifts on Valentine’s Day is a fairly recent one. As well as flowers, popular gifts include confectionery, especially chocolate, jewellery, items that have a personal meaning to the recipient, and increasingly treatments as a beauty spa.

Valentine’s Day Cards

The tradition of sending cards on Valentine’s day with romantic verses in them started in 16th Century, replacing an earlier tradition of saying or singing them. The mass production of Valentine’s Day cards, in those days with black and white pictures, was started by the Victorians in the earlier 19th Century.

The sales of Valentine’s Day sales cards are second only to those at Christmas. Over a billion cards a year are sold, with 83% being bought by women. The most common images on Valentine’ Day cards are red roses, hearts, and images of Cupid, the winged son of Venus, the goddess of love.

Valentine’s Day Proposals

An estimated 10% of proposals in the USA take place on Valentine’s Day, the most romantic day of the year. Whilst a man can propose marriage to his lover on any Valentine’s Day, by tradition women should only propose on Valentine’s Day in a leap year.

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