Had a Valentine’s Day engagement? What the day means, and why we celebrate it.

Julie Paisley Photography

Had a Valentine’s Day engagement? What we think the day means, and why we celebrate it.


Valentine’s Day around the world is generally celebrated on the 14th February every year. It’s seen as a day of love, and an important time for sharing it with someone special (whether it is a partner, friend, or member of the family). It is also a day that can be especially significant if you or your partner has chosen this day of love to propose. So, have you had a Valentine’s day engagement?

1.The roots of Valentine’s Day – Pagan or Roman?

The roots of Valentine’s day go a long way back and no one can completely agree on the exact facts on this one. The earliest origin story goes back to a pagan holiday known as ‘Lupercalia‘, which was more to do with celebrating fertility and beginning of spring time than actual romance.

One theory though, is that the Roman Emperor Claudius II banned soldiers from marrying during war time because it distracted the men. However, a humble priest decided to defy him and performed secret weddings until he was caught (and executed – no romance there). His name was Bishop Valentine. 

Another theory that is mentioned, is that a man named Valentine died helping Christians escape prison in Rome and, while incarcerated, sent a message to his beloved signed ‘From your Valentine’.

None of these stories sound particularly romantic, so how did we come to the modern day celebrations we have today?


Viktor & rolf perfume bottle next to a blush pink ring box with platinum wedding and engagement ring and a blush pink and white invitation below on a flat surface

Iris and Ivory Photography

Delilah Floral Hair Pins

 2. From Roman wars to modern day love

It does seem that there is a massive leap from executions following illegal weddings and incarcerations, to love notes, flowers, chocolates and wedding proposals doesn’t it? But it has taken hundreds of years and a few writers in between, for it to evolve in to a day of ‘Love’ that we know now, thankfully.

And we can thank writers and poets like the works of Chaucer, and Shakespeare for helping to nurture those thoughts with both mentioning it in their literary works.


Couple embracing in a garden in a wedding gown and mens wedding suit

Iris and Ivy Photography

 3.  Valentine’s day – Signed with an ‘X’.

So it turns out that ‘x’ is quite an important symbol from our history. Right back to medieval times, those who couldn’t write their names would sign a letter in front of a witness with an ‘x’. Which they then kissed (the ‘x’, not the witness), to show their sincerity. 

letter on flat surface written with calligraphy with slightly damaged edges to look old. Placed on top are two bridal hair accessories. Both hair vines with a mix of pearls, enamelled white leaves and diamante

Sophie May Photography

 4. RED is the colour of Valentine’s Day

It’s all to do with the heart … who knew!  It was generally believed that our emotions (especially love) came from the heart. And as the heart pumped red blood around our bodies, red became the symbol of love.

Couple in embrace on their wedding day. The bride is holding a bouquet of flowers
Sophie Ruck Photography

 5. We don’t all celebrate St Valentine’s Day the same way.

Did you know, in Japan it’s customary for the woman to gift confectionary to the men in their lives (not my favourite). In Latin American countries couples exchange flowers, chocolates and gratitude. They spend the day with friends and celebrate. Those in Finland and Estonia celebrate this day as ‘Friends Day’, where they celebrate with their friends rather than partners.  And South Koreans celebrate love on the 14th of EVERY month. Imagine that!


Paris cafe with small tables and chairs and woman walking in front in a black dress and hat.
Julie Paisley Photography

If romance is top of your list in February, then it might be worth visiting ‘St Valentin’ in France between the 12th -14th February where the locals decorate the houses with roses, cover the trees in love notes and many marriage proposals take place. x



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“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind”

 – William Shakespeare