Valentine’s Day: perhaps the most divisive celebration in our calendars. So divisive, in fact, that some do not consider it a celebration at all; cited by some to be the pinnacle of romance, and by others a corporate invention to sell greetings cards. Amid mass production and with more significance than ever placed on material things, has this celebration lost its meaning? Has sentiment been overshadowed by expectation and convenience?

How did Valentine's Day start?

The history of Valentine’s Day is perhaps not what you’d expect. Far from being invented for the purpose of selling cards and heart-shaped chocolate boxes, its celebration goes back centuries. There were, in fact, several St. Valentines, all martyred for rebelling against order and power in the name of love. Beyond the Saints themselves, mid-February was celebrated in Roman and Pagan cultures as a time of love, hope and prosperity.

How has it changed?

Like everything else, Valentine’s Day celebrations changed with the times. While it was once a day to exchange handwritten letters and perhaps small tokens with loved ones, mass manufacture changed the game. The emergence of Cadbury’s heart-shaped chocolate boxes in 1861 made businesses boom, and are responsible for the chocolatiers’ trend that is still strong today. 

Evolving Traditions

It is only natural - and good! - that traditions should evolve. Ready-made cards with printed messages replaced hand-written letters in 1900, at a time when people were discouraged from heartfelt or emotional displays. And centuries before that, Valentine’s activities were largely performed in the hopes of sparking romantic love, marriage prospects and fertility. These traditions don’t (or shouldn’t!) resound today. Of course we should reimagine the celebration: to embrace what love means to us now, in all of its wonderful forms.


Do Valentine's Day your way

Romantic love is just one of the meaningful loves to be had in our lives. Different countries and cultures have made the tradition their own, such as the celebration of friends and lovers on el Día de los Enamorados in many Latin American countries. Love for our friends, family, neighbours, pets, and ourselves are all cause to celebrate on Valentine’s Day. However, many of us end up last-minute panic-buying for the occasion, meaning the overconsumption of perhaps poorly made or generic gifts. If we fall victim to the V-Day shopping dash, for the sake of having a gift to give a loved one, will our gift truly reflect how we feel about them?

Thoughtful, meaningful gifts will only grow in sentiment over time, resembling many more memories to be made with your loved ones. 

We’re certainly not saying that Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be celebrated with cards or chocolates. In fact, we think it should be celebrated however you want. On a day that can feel so pressured to ‘get it right’ with a grand gesture or public display, let’s let go of what we think we should do. And if you do want to do something a little different this year, it could be a great time to make a truly thoughtful gesture. Perhaps you’ll add a staple to your tableware, so you and your best friend can plate up your go-to takeaway in style, or even cook at home (here's some recipe inspiration for you). Maybe you’ll commit to slowing down and taking time for yourself, whether alone or with a partner, by savouring your morning coffee or breakfast in bed in the comfiest PJs. Let’s consider not just the happiness of the day itself, but how we can invest in each other’s happiness year-round, for many more to come.

We all deserve to take a moment to appreciate ourselves and those we love in our lives. And if you do want to mark the occasion with a thoughtful gift, we’ve put together a collection of gift inspiration guides here for you. Make this Valentine’s Day thoughtful, meaningful, and memorable - whatever that looks like to you.

February 03, 2022 — Bridie Shine