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How it all started - the origins of Valentine's day

3 min read

The History of St. Valentine

A bloody backstory is the perfect backdrop for an action film, but Valentine’s Day? The Catholic Church recognises three saints named Valentine or Valentinus, and every one of them met a brutal end. There are legends that shroud each of them in mystery, however, it’s believed the holiday is associated with the Priest Valentine, who served in third century Rome. The most interesting story involves Emperor Claudius II. He banned his soldiers from marrying because he believed having a family would distract them from military duties. However, Valentine believed these actions to be unjust and continued to marry soldiers in secret. Not the smartest move, as it turned out. When Claudius discovered the treachery, Priest Valentine was put to death.

Pagan rituals and Roman marriage parties

Many believe Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to celebrate St. Valentine’s death, but like many historical accounts, there is plenty of debate. Some argue the day was placed on the 14th to “Christianise” the pagan festival of Lupercalia. Celebrated on the Ides of February, the fertility festival was dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. Towards the end of the festival, women would place their names in a large urn and watch as the city’s bachelors chose names. The pair would then be married.

Romance in the Middle Ages

Valentine’s Day didn't come to resemble the modern day of love until the Middle Ages, when the holiday began to definitively celebrate romance. Valentine’s greetings became popular during this period, but written messages didn’t surface until after 1400. The first Valentine’s Day card ever is believed to have been written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, who was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He wrote a message of love to his wife shortly after his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.

Modern Valentine's Day in Australia

Valentine’s Day became widely popular across the globe in the 1800s, when people began exchanging small tokens of love. Valentine’s Day cards were en vogue by the 1900s, after new printing technology assisted in their creation, and by this time the tradition had well and truly made its way to Australia. Australians send millions of Valentines each year, often choosing to express their love with chocolates and of course, flowers! Red roses have become a popular choice due to their long association with passion and fertility.


Whether your love has a long history, or whether it’s just beginning, Valentine’s Day gives you the chance to show how much your loved one means to you. Let us help you express your love! Check out our our gorgeous Valentine’s Day bouquets and select the ideal Valentine’s Day gift. Or for something a little different, why not try a flower basket or terrarium? No matter who your Valentine is this year, Interflora has you covered.

Interflora Australia has been operating across our country since 1954. Originally based in Adelaide, South Australia, we now operate out of Interflora House in Melbourne, Victoria. Interflora Australia is 100% Australian owned - via a licensing agreement, issued to us from Interflora in the United Kingdom...