When is Valentine's Day, why do we celebrate it and when did it start?

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The annual celebration of love has changed drastically since its origins. 

Shops are starting to fill up with red roses, chocolate hearts, teddy bears and other typical gifts as Valentine's Day draws ever closer.

Restaurants are announcing deals to celebrate the special day and loved-up couples are starting to think about what to get their other half to show how much they care. 

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But where did this tradition come from? Here we answer the frequently asked questions about Valentine’s Day.

What is Valentine's Day?

Valentine’s Day is a day where people celebrate and spend time with their loved ones. 

While Valentine’s Day is usually a day for romantic couples to give traditional gifts and spend time together, in recent years Valentine’s Day has become a celebration of all who we love, from parents, children, friends and more.

When is Valentine's Day?

Valentine’s Day takes place annually on February 14. This year, Valentine’s Day will be held on a Wednesday.

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Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day?

Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine. Previously known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, it originated as a Christian feast day, which honoured the saint. 

However, the celebration has actually been linked to three separate Saint Valentine’s, two of which have legendary tales which relate to love.

The first Saint Valentine was a Roman martyr, who married young lovers in secret after Emperor Claudius II issued a decree prohibiting young men from marrying, instead conscripting them to the military.

Saint Valentine II assisted Christian prisoners in escaping from Roman jails before being caught and imprisoned himself. He went on to befriend his jailer Asterious, who asked him to help his blind daughter with lessons. 

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Saint Valentine II was offered a pardon on the condition that he renounced his Christian faith, but after refusing he was sentenced to death. Before he was killed, Saint Valentine II apparently wrote a note to Julia, signing it: “From your Valentine”, which is said to inspire the cards we give to our loved ones today.

When did Valentine's Day start? 

The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496, and the date was chosen to be celebrated on February 14 in honour of the Saint that was killed on the date.

Valentine's Day is an annual celebration of love.Valentine's Day is an annual celebration of love.
Valentine's Day is an annual celebration of love. | master1305 - stock.adobe.com

What are the modern traditions of Valentine's Day?

Despite originating as a religious celebration, people all over the world of various religions or no religion celebrate the day as a way to remind their nearest and dearest of their love. 

In current times, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with gifts and cards to loved ones, as well as spending quality time together. 

However, not all are a fan of the day, and some choose not to celebrate.

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