This day originated with the honouring of early Christian martyrs: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. It was later adopted as the day of romantic love, ‘courtly love’, and evolved into an occasion of lovers expressing their love by giving.

The custom of sending cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts originated in the UK and Valentine’s Day remains connected with various regional traditions in England. In Norfolk, the character called Jack Valentine knocked on the rear door of houses leaving sweets and presents for children. Although he was leaving treats, many children were scared of this mystical person.

Valentine’s Day is mentioned by Ophelia in William Shakespeare‘s Hamlet (1600–1601):

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

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