The History of St Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day, also called St Valentine's Day, is celebrated on February 14th, when people throughout the world express their affection with greetings and gifts.  The celebration has origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February.  The festival, which celebrated the coming of spring, included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery.  At the end of the 5th Century, Pope Gelasius the first, replaced Lupercalia with St Valentine's Day.  It came to be celebrated as a day of romance from about the 14th century.

Although there were several Christian martyrs named Valentine, the day may have taken its name from a priest who was martyred about 270CE by the emperor Claudius the 2nd, Gothicus.  According o legend, the priest signed a letter 'from your Valentine' to his jailer's daughter, whom he had befriended and, by some accounts, healed from blindness.  Other accounts hold that it was St Valentine of Terri, a Bishop, for whom the holiday was named, though it is possible the two saints were actually one person.  Another common legend states that St Valentine defied the emperor's orders and secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war.  It is for this reason that his feast is associated with love

Formal messages or 'valentines' appeared in the 1500's and by the late 1700's commercially printed cards were being used.  The first commercial valentine in the United States were printed in the mid 1800's.  Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman God of Love, along with hearts, traditionally the seat of emotion.  Because it was thought that the avian mating season begins in mid-February, birds also became a symbol of the day.  Traditional gifts include jewellery, flowers, particularly red roses as they are widely believed to be a symbol of beauty and love.

Valentine's Day is popular in Ireland, Britain, America, Canada and Australia.  it is also celebrated in other countries including Argentina, France, Mexico and South Korea.  In the Philippines, it is the most common wedding anniversary and mass weddings of hundreds of couples are not uncommon on that date.  The holiday has expanded to expressions of affection among relatives and friends.  Many school children exchange valentines with one another on this day.

Although there are no celebrations or traditions for Valentine's Day that are completely unique to Ireland, one gesture which is inherently Irish is the exchange of Claddagh rings.  Originating from a small fishing village called 'The Claddagh' in Galway, the west of Ireland.  These symbolic rings are adored worldwide.  Why not celebrate St Valentine's Day this year with a traditional Claddagh ring.  Available online where we ship worldwide