Valentine’s Day is best known as a celebration for lovers – but its roots go back thousands of years. The exact identity of the original Saint Valentine isn’t clear, and the Catholic Church recognises at least three separate contenders, all of whom were martyred for different reasons. Various legends have linked the saints to modern-day romance, including an imprisoned Valentine sending his lover a letter from his cell signed ‘From your Valentine’. 14 February has been designated as St Valentine’s Day since the fifth century, but it didn’t take on its current specific associations of love until the Middle Ages.
The tradition of sending Valentine’s Day greetings started in Britain around 300 years ago, and in the early 20th century printed cards began to replace handmade tokens. Valentine’s Day caught on a little later in the United States, but now around one billion cards travel across the States each February 14, making it second only to Christmas as an occasion to exchange cards.
In Japan, the traditional Valentine’s Day gift is chocolate. The celebration has been popular there since 1936, and the traditional gift is chocolate. Interestingly, 14 February is an occasion for women to give gifts to men – men have their own chance to reciprocate on 14 March. The gifts aren’t just aimed at lovers, though – women can present colleagues, class-mates or relatives with chocolate with no romantic overtones.
In Finland, Valentine’s Day is known as ‘Friendship Day’ or Ystävänpäivä, and although cards and gifts are exchanged they’re not confined to lovers. It’s still a popular day to get engaged, though.
Slovenia celebrates their festival of romance on 12 March on a day called St George’s Day. It’s also the traditional start of spring, and some people still observe an old customer of setting lanterns and candles on a stream to float away, in acknowledgement that the days are longer.
If you’d like a traditional romantic evening out, we’re offering special Valentine’s Day dinners on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 February. Come along and relax in our cosy dining room, with candles and open fires for the perfect atmosphere. You can take a look at the menu on our food page. Call us to book on 01477 571284.