That date in the calendar can evoke so many different emotions in people. Of course the typical lovey- dovey for the brand new loved up couples, Hatred for the marketing all around you and anxiety for the needy... All this is also covered in Chocolate, flowers (Roses if you are lucky) and perhaps a touch of bling too.
But have you ever wondered where the feast originates from?
Yes most of us know St. Valentine, or rather heard about him somewhere - probably he was a lovely guy and it's all fluffy unicorn and love hearts - WRONG.
In reality no one has actually quite pin-pointed the origin of the holiday, however the story of St. Valentine takes us to the 3rd century: AD 270 to be exact which is the year he died a martyr while Catholics were being persecuted by Emperor Claudius II in Rome.
It is said that St. Valentine (aka St. Valentine of Rome) was executed for marrying Catholic Couples in Rome.
However these facts are a little muddled up as the name Valentine, meaning strong, vigorous and healthy in Latin was a pretty common moniker in ancient Rome so there were a few possibilities to the origin of the saint , though it was later narrowed down to two possible candidates for the martyred saint... one is a priest beheaded on the outskirts of Rome, the other is the bishop of Terni also Martyred by the Roman Emperor. It may also be the case that they are in fact the same person (Chinese whispers and all).
Whichever way he was given the sainthood in the 1400s - however just like many relationships we could say the one with the church went sour too as in 1969 the Catholic Church decided with all the confusion surrounding the identity they would stop liturgical veneration of the saint. In other words he was not an A-lister anymore.
However the actual origins of the feast could also be attributed to even well before 270 AD in the Roman feast of Lupercalia which was celebrated between the 13th and 15th of February.
The pre-roman pastoral annual festival was organised to avert evil spirits from the Roman capital while purifying the city as well as releasing health and fertility.
Like most things Rome it involved Wine and Nudity.
The men would sacrifice an animal (usually goats) and with the hide of the animal they would hit the women with it - Yes you read that right! - Young women would line up for the men to hit them as they believed this would make them fertile.
So where is the love?
The feast also was a primitive form of speed dating, or rather speed love lottery as men would draw a name from a jar with the name of one of the girls and they would be coupled up for the rest of the duration of the festival or maybe more if it worked.
Is it me or is this sounding very much like Love Island?
Things get really confusing when in the 5th century Pope Gelasius outlawed Lupercalia (which by then was more of a theatrical interpretation) but kept the feast and just renamed it St. Valentine's , thus becoming more of a drunken revel though the Christians put the clothes back on it.
We have to thank our poets for romanticising the feast. As Chaucer and Shakespeare and other counterparts made things sweeter.. While in Italy where all of this generated from after all, the feast became a spring festival where young citizens would gather in ornamental gardens and enjoy listening to music and reading poetry before wandering off with a loved one into the trees.
The custom however fizzled out through the years , however the romantic side and the poetry stayed and eventually became our 'Roses are Red......'
Hallmark cards started producing Valentine's Day cards for the feast on the 14th of February, in 1913 and that date was never been the same after that day!
And this is some serious business!
Valentine's day sales reached a wopping £650 milion last year! With consumers spending £60 on average.
The most active Valentine's Day spenders are the older millenials (aged between 28 - 37) spending around £80 on gifts. The numbers are also very much sexist as the men tend to spend more than women nearly double in fact , with the average men spending £72 while women around £44 on average.
But of course this is just being conditioned to do so, because let's face it we are not built to malfunction on February 14th with a need to buy cards and chocolates!and flowers and bling!
But on the flip side . why not?
Make your own Valentine's
So some might be breaking the bank and others might be heating up an M&S ready meal for one... A few might even be spending the day just the way the early Romans did, Hello Mr. Grey!