Valentine’s day background

There are a number of Saints called Valentine who are honored on February 14. The day became associated with romantic love in the Middle Ages in England. This may have followed on from the Pagan fertility festivals that were held all over Europe as the winter came to an end. Traditionally, lovers exchanged hand written notes. Commercial cards became available in the mid nineteenth century.

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First mention of St Valentine’s Day

The first mention of St. Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday appeared in the writings of Chaucer in 1382. With the medieval period came a new focus on illicit but chaste courtly love, and it is here that we see some of the familiar iconography begin to appear. Knights would give roses to their maidens and celebrate their beauty in songs from afar. But sugar was still a precious commodity in Europe, so there was no talk of exchanging candy gifts.

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Celebrating Valentine’s day with a box of chocolates

Conversation hearts, truffles galore and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates—these are the symbols of Valentine’s Day for many lovers around the world. But why do we have a “sweets to the sweet” tradition every February 14? While the roots of Valentine’s Day go all the way back to Roman times, candy gift giving is a much more recent development. Is it because of chocolate’s reputed aphrodisiac qualities, or just a way for candy companies to sell more sweets in the lull between Christmas and Easter? Whatever the reason, those ubiquitous little red boxes flood shelves every year.

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