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Valentine’s 600-year-old tradition


According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $20.7 billion for Valentine’s Day in 2019. In the same year, it was reported that UK’s total retail spending for the same was estimated at £980m. Yes, all this money was spent in one day to express love in the  form of cards, gifts, flowers, food, and drinks.  Over and above that, the National Retail Federation estimated that Americans spent over $800 million on gifts for their four-legged friends in 2019. While the holiday once considered “Western” continues to permeate other parts of the world like wildfire, let us celebrate its history because there is more to this day than sharing love, chocolates, roses, and expensive dinners.

History of Valentine

In the 3rd Century,, the Roman Emperor Claudius II was trying to reinforce his army. In the belief that single men made better soldiers, he forbade young men to marry. However, in the spirit of love, St. Valentine defied the ban and performed secret marriages. For his disobedience, Valentine was executed on February 14th. Right before he died, Valentine supposedly wrote the first-ever “valentine” to his jailer’s daughter, with whom he had fallen in love. Later, in the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I declared the day of his death St. Valentine’s Day.

Did you know that …?

  1. Valentine’s Day is the biggest day for florists. Valentine’s Day accounts for 30 percent of all flower purchases, beating Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Thanksgiving.
  2. The most love-struck place in the world is Valentine town in Texas, USA. It is named after St. Valentine. The town has a population of 125, so the next time you get a chance to visit you can be assured of meeting the whole community of love.
  3. The heart-shaped chocolate box was introduced by Richard Cadbury in 1868. He is also known to have created the richest, creamiest, and sweetest chocolate on the market. Now you know where the name in your favorite cocoa drink comes from.
  4. Wearing red can get you noticed; it is science. Psychologists at the University of Rochester found that persons (all genders) wearing red or standing in front of a red background were more noticed than any other color. So, is it time to cash in on something red?
  5. The oldest known valentine message is on display at the British Museum in London. It is a poem that Charles Duke of Orleans wrote to his wife when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.
  6. In the Philippines, February 14th is the most common wedding anniversary, and mass weddings of hundreds of couples are not uncommon on this date.

As you express your love on this day, let it be a lifestyle of love as emphasized by our founder St. JoseMaria Escriva to “Do everything for love. That way there are no little things. Everything is big” and to remember that words of Mother Teresa “Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service”.


This Article was written by Annete Karanja.