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As Valentine’s Day gets closer and the prospect of evenings or even days out are still not on the cards, we thought we’d take a look back at the history of this annual day of love, and why we celebrate it in the first place.
The idea of exchanging love tokens on a particular day each year is thought by some to be named after a Christian martyr from the 5th century. But there are, it seems, a number of different saints who may be associated with the day and the first recognised St Valentine might well have been Roman.
The story goes that in 3rd century Rome the Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families and outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, considering this to be unacceptable and unjust, decided to continue to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Claudius found out he ordered that Valentine be put to death, which some say happened around mid-February, hence the origin of the date.
Jump forward a few hundred years and the origins of a written Valentine’s message first appear. The oldest known written Valentine’s message, still in existence today, was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Several years later it’s believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.
By the middle of the 18th century, it became common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection and handwritten notes. By 1900 the first printed cards started to be exchanged on February 14th as printing technology became available. Being able to send cards with love messages also meant that lovers of the time could express themselves more openly which wasn’t encouraged in person.
Today Valentine’s Day is the 2nd largest card-sending holiday of the year, the first is Christmas. Gifts range from flowers, chocolates, lingerie, slippers (of course!) and jewellery to mini-breaks, wedding proposals and poetry. The more imaginative and heartfelt, it seems, the better.
So, while most of us are spending more time than ever in our homes this Valentine’s Day, why not take a look at some of our cosy homewares and comfy slippers for men and women for a special gift. And whoever is on the receiving end of your Valentine’s Day wishes this year whether it’s your partner, friend, spouse, or even your pet, don’t forget to be kind to yourself too.
Love from the Bedroom Athletics Team