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The History of Valentine’s Day

January 18, 2024

Valentine’s Day, one of the most romantic days of the year, is quickly approaching. It’s never too soon to think about what you’re planning for that special someone, whether it’s a lovely date night at a favorite restaurant or cooking a wonderful meal at home with some delicious dessert to share.  

Knowing that it’s such a special day to share with your loved one, we thought it would be great to dive into the history of the holiday. How did it come to fall on February 14? How come shoppers gravitate towards flowers and chocolate? Also, where did Cupid come from? Keep reading to find out all about the history of Valentine’s Day and why you should keep celebrating.  


Technically, Valentine’s Day’s history is a bit foggy. There are a few different places where it’s believed to have originated. For hundreds of years, the holiday was rooted in celebrating romance during the month of February and had a history in both Roman traditions, as well as Christian ones. But many still may ask, who was Saint Valentine? 

According to, Catholics celebrate a few different Saint Valentine’s, but all of them were martyred. One story says that in the third century in Rome, they believed unmarried men made better soldiers than married men, outlawing marriage. However, Valentine disagreed and continued to marry couples secretly. Once the emperors found out, he was executed. Other stories believe Saint Valentine of Terni, a bishop, is the name behind the holiday, he was also executed. There are also stories that say an imprisoned Valentine sent the first ‘valentine’ after falling in love and signing it ‘from your Valentine.’  

Regardless of which story is the truth, they’re all rooted in the foundation that Valentine’s was a lover at heart and believed in romance. 

Baby Cupid 

When it comes to Valentine’s Day symbols, one of the most well-known is baby cupid. Often on cards or other décor as a naked, cherub launching ‘love’ from a bow and arrow, but he’s from Greek mythology. According to Time, Cupid comes from the Greek god of love, Eros. It's said that Eros was a man who would use arrows to bring lovers together, playing with hearts and causing chaos, but later he became to be portrayed as the round-faced child for Valentine’s Day. That stems from Eros eventually listening to his mother, Aphrodite, who allowed him to bring people together based on what she wanted, instead of him being impulsive. When the Romans adapted mythology – they made Eros into a baby – naming him Cupid, which is a synonym for Eros meaning ‘desire.’ 


When it comes to Valentine’s Day traditions, every couple creates their own. However, there are a few that are widely celebrated around the world. The popularity of the holiday goes back to the 17th and 18th century, when it became popular to share notes or affection with their loved ones.  According to, Esther A. Howland started selling valentines in the U.S. in the 1940s, making her the ‘Mother of the Valentine.’ This tradition eventually turned into cards, which Hallmark says around 145 million are sent each Valentine’s Day. 

Make Valentine’s Day Special 

Depending on what kind of date night you’re looking to have with your loved one, there are a lot of ways to make the day special. If you want to stay home, you can create a new recipe together, watch a new show or movie or tackle a DIY craft or home project you’ve been wanting to work on – like painting a room together or building a piece of furniture.  

If you want to get out of the house for some time alone, head out to your favorite restaurant or try something new. You could also do an activity together that takes you somewhere new in your own city, like a museum or pottery night.  

If you’re really looking to make a big statement, you could take a trip to celebrate the holiday. If you want to fly somewhere, you may be able to find an inexpensive plane ticket as the holiday gets closer or try finding a fun new city within driving distance from home to explore with your love. 

Give Your Gift Meaning 

Depending on your budget, you can decide what kind of gift you’d like to give to your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife.  

When it comes to candy, usually chocolate is a top pick, but make sure you cater this to whatever your loved one likes most, not everyone likes chocolate! Also, you can pivot and get your significant other a snack or treat they love, even if it’s not a typical Valentine’s Day treat.  

Clothing or items that your partner loves also make great gifts. You can get them an item they’ve been wanting or haven’t chosen to buy themselves. You can also get them something with sentimental value, like a piece of jewelry or something that you personalize for them. 

Whatever you choose, it’ll be special because of the thought and love behind it.  

Consumer Habits 

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend more than $25 Billion on Valentine’s Day, with half of shoppers over 18 planning to celebrate and spend an average of $192.80. Do you spend more or less than that?  

NRF also says the top gifts are candy, followed by cards, flowers and then date night. This year, Valentine’ Day falls on a Wednesday, will you and your loved one celebrate that night or bump your date night to the weekend before or after? 

Also, when it comes to flowers, a dozen roses are about $80 – making it a great time to buy an orchid for your loved one instead, especially since the blooms will last well past cut flowers.  

If you aren’t sure if flowers or an orchid are the right gift choice, it’s a great pick since most consumers like to receive flowers than give them, so you know they’ll be well-received! Plus, the International Fresh Produce Association says flowers do well because they’re nice to look at, don’t need wrapping and can be easily grabbed at the last minute. 

Now that you know more about the history of Valentine’s Day and some common traditions celebrated, we’d love to know what your favorite tradition or gift to give is. Are you more about chocolate? All about the flowers? Focus on date night? Tell us in the comments and let us know if Just Add Ice® is included in your special day with your loved one.