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Valentine's Day - VictorianTraditions

Updated on March 25, 2013

Celebrating Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is celebrated around the world. Traditionally, it is a day to express love through the sending of Valentine's, flowers and candy. Geoffrey Chaucer is credited with giving the day its romantic meaning which started with a poem he wrote in 1381, honoring the engagement of King Richard the II of England to Anne of Bohemia.

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

Victorian Era Valentine
Victorian Era Valentine

In 1600 Shakespeare's Ophelia mentions Valentine's Day in Hamlet.

To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,
And dupp'd the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5

Victorian Valentine
Victorian Valentine

Valentine's Day Becomes a Holiday

By the late 1700s Valentine's Day was an established holiday and by the mid 1800s handwritten notes were being replaced by mass produced Valentines. This along with the lowering of postal rates, made it possible to send anonymous notes of affection. The anonymity changed the content of the Valentines giving the prudish Victorians the opportunity to send Valentines with a more racy and suggestive nature.

By the middle of the 1900s the sending of gifts such as flowers and candy became popular. With the most popular flowers being red roses and the choice for candy being assorted chocolates in heart shaped boxes.

Victorian Valentine
Victorian Valentine

Cupid - The God of Love

Cupid has long been associated with Valentine's Day. In Roman mythology, Cupid is known as the God of Love.  The name Cupid is a variation of the name Cupido which means desire.  Cupid is also known as Amor which means love.  Depicted as a child with wings, Cupid was the son of Venus, who was the Roman Goddess of love. Cupid's always ready bow is said to shoot arrows into the hearts of lovers.

"Sleeping Cupid" by Caravaggio
"Sleeping Cupid" by Caravaggio
Valentine's Day Chocolate
Valentine's Day Chocolate

Why chocolate on Valentine's Day?

“Chocolate is heavenly, mellow, sensual, deep, dark, sumptuous, gratifying, potent, dense, creamy, seductive, suggestive, rich, excessive, silky, smooth, luxurious, celestial. Chocolate is downfall, happiness, pleasure, love, ecstasy, fantasy … chocolate makes us wicked, guilty, sinful, healthy, chic, happy.” - Elaine Sherman -

What else is there to say?

A red rose for Valentine's Day
A red rose for Valentine's Day

Red Roses for Valentine's Day

The tradition of sending flowers, most notably red roses gained popularity in the 1600s. But the red rose as a symbol of love dates back much further. This again can be attributed to the Romans as it was believed to be the favorite flower of Venus, the Goddess of Love.

The most popular presentation of the red rose on Valentine's Day is a single rose surrounded by Baby's Breath. Red is the preferred color, standing for love, passion, and respect.

An Affair to Remember
An Affair to Remember
Gone With the Wind
Gone With the Wind

Romantic Movies to watch on Valentine's Day

There are hundreds of romantic movies out there to watch with your love on Valentine's Day. This is just a personal list of some of my favorites in no particular order.

An Affair to Remember

The Notebook

Return to Me

While You Were Sleeping


Gone With the Wind

Ever After


West Side Story

The Way We Were

Random Harvest

Sleepless in Seattle

The American President


Way too many to choose from, the list could go on forever.


Submit a Comment

  • Philipo profile image


    9 years ago from Nigeria

    Very nice. Thanks for sharing.


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