Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day Quick Facts - EU

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2024 Date14 February 2024
2025 Date14 February 2025

Valentine's Day

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Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love and affection. Traditionally, this observance brings joy and warmth to the middle of winter and is symbolised globally by hearts, flowers, chocolates and messages of enduring affection. Often, lovers will exchange cards, gifts and sentiments while single people may also use this occasion to express adoration to people they secretly admire. Over time, Valentine's Day has evolved into a significant cultural, religious, and commercial holiday with its roots originating in ancient Roman and Christian traditions.

Specific to the European Union, Valentine's Day brings an interesting mix of traditions and customizations. The day's history weaves tales from St Valentine, a Catholic saint believed to have secretly wedded young lovers, thereby defying a Roman Emperor's edict. Some narratives also attribute the day to Lupercalia, an ancient pagan fertility festival. Today, Europeans often exchange Valentine notes known as ‘valentines’, expressing affection in written form. These traditions have expanded beyond romantic relationships, with many Europeans sending Valentine’s Day wishes to friends and family members.

In the European Union, the observance of Valentine's Day varies among countries but remains unified in its expression of love. In countries like Italy and France, the celebration can be rather intimate with couples setting up romantic dinner dates. In countries like the United Kingdom and Germany, a wider group of individuals including school children, teachers, friends and family exchange greetings. Valentine’s Day takes place annually on February 14.

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Facts about Valentine's Day

  • Symbols for Valentine's day include hearts, chocolate, flowers, and Cupid - the Roman God of Love.
  • Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind. And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind - William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • The tradition of exchanging handwritten love notes on Valentine's Day started in Europe in the Middle Ages. The oldest known Valentine's Day card, dated 1415, was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
  • The association of Valentine's Day with romantic love and the exchange of love notes can be traced back to the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, an English poet in the 14th century. In his poem Parliament of Fowls, Chaucer links the tradition of courtly love to St. Valentine's feast day.

Top things to do in the EU for Valentine's Day

  • Send someone you care for a Valentine's Day card. Take the time to write a small note or love poem inside. Sign it, from your Valentine.
  • Remember other important people in your life, such as your parents, grandparents and old friends. Send them a small card or gift to remind them of how much you care.
  • Go on a romantic walk in Paris: Often referred to as the "City of Love", Paris is a popular destination for couples. Visiting the Eiffel Tower or relaxed strolls along the Seine river can be a memorable experience.
  • Attend a Valentine’s Day Concert, Vienna, Austria: The Vienna Philharic Orchestra offers a special Valentine's Day concert featuring romantic pieces from well-known composers.

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