Valentine’s Day history

Fri. Feb. 14, 2020

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Valentine’s Day history

Uh… today is Valentine’s Day!  Just a reminder in case you would like to make an impression on a loved one… today would be a good day for that!

The history of Valentine’s Day is a bit convoluted as there are plenty of versions!

There were 3 Christian martyrs all named Valentine and in 500 AD, Pope Gelasius created St. Valentines Day to commemorate the martyrs.  At that time there was no romantic meaning to the day.

The first recorded association of Valentines day with romantic love is in the “Parlement of Foules” by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1382.  His poem is written in the form of a dream vision and talks of lonely lovers and birds, eagles in particular, convening a parliament where they would find their mates. It all happens on St. Valentines Day.

So when did the whole flower thing start? The first known association comes in an English nursery rhyme written in 1784. I know you’re familiar with it, it starts: The rose is red, the violet is blue… I’ll not finish it, so I don’t bore you! Click on the link for the history of the poem  Roses are red

The exchanging of cards really got going in England in 1797 when an English publisher issued “The Young Mans Valentine Writer” with suggestions on what to say to your love.

It wasn’t until the 2nd half of the 20th century that roses and chocolates became synonymous with Valentines day.  And, not too surprisingly, it started in the United States! That’s our entrepreneurial spirit at work!

A day to celebrate love and affection is set aside in nearly every country in the world. There are various meanings and traditions in nearly all of them as well!  This site looks a little funky but it’s got some very interesting info:  Top Ten Valentine’s Traditions around the World. 

For instance Argentinians take a week to celebrate the occasion.  In addition to February 14th they set aside seven days in July for “sweetness week.”

But here in the U.S. don’t forget the flowers!  This Bleeding Heart perennial would be perfect for your gardener on Valentine’s Day!

Bleeding heart ‘Valentine Giant’ by Johnston’s Plants