The History of Valentines Day Gifting

Cards, flowers, chocolates. Popular Valentine’s Day gifts, all. But did you ever wonder how they became so ubiquitous with the Day of Love? Read on…

The Lover’s Holiday is nearly upon us! As we all know, or at least those of us who enjoy this holiday, it’s typically defined by expressions of love and affection, demonstrated by the thoughtful exchange of gifts between special friends, family, and lovers.

Of course, there are three main go-to gifts on Valentine’s Day: flowers, cards, and chocolate. But, why? Where did these gift traditions come from for this particular celebration? Here’s a quick and easy guide to the history.

Valentine’s Day flower gifting tradition dates back to the 17th century, when roses, which have always represented love in all its various incarnations, became the flowers of choice to mark this day. It’s believed that the rose is a favorite flower of Venus, the Goddess of Love, as it is symbolic for strong, intense, and loving feelings. As such, lovers began giving flowers to those they cared about to convey their deep affection for one another.

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Remember the fun you had as a kid in school, spending hours preparing Valentines Day cards for the much-anticipated card exchange? Cards have been a long-standing means of sharing feelings of love and affection through carefully chosen words, quotes,  and poems.

Charles, Duke of OrléansBut where did this tradition of Valentine’s Day cards begin? A very long time ago, in 1415, Charles the Duke of Orleans wrote a beautiful poem for his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London on Valentine’s Day.

By the 16th century, having inspired lovers for over a century, the Duke’s model had evolved into card form and had become so common on Valentine’s Day that several religious leaders actually preached against them. Despite the holy push-back, by the early 19th century, cards were the most popular way to show your love on Valentine’s Day day.

It wasn’t until the 1800s, however, when, with the ability to send cards by mail by just about anyone, the exposure and popularity of the Valentine’s Day card took off!

Today, 600 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged every year.

But, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, one of the most highly anticipated gifts is probably sweet, delicious chocolate. Really, it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without it!

We can thank the Spanish explorers, those intrepid world adventurers (not to mention, brutal colonists!) for bringing the sweet confection back to the Old World from the New in the 17th century. It didn’t take long for the lure of chocolate to take hold and its popularity to increase throughout Europe. Soon enough chocolate, quite likely for its aphrodisiac effects, became the sweet of choice for the lover’s holiday.

Despite diet trends and healthy choices, millions of chocolates are sold for Valentine’s Day. But, they’re often accompanied by thousands of bouquets of roses and bazillions of cards. They all usually go hand-in-hand.

This year, you could always try to break with tradition. Have some fun and see what else you can come up with to demonstrate how much you love the special people in your life.

If like us, you’re a content traditionalist, we encourage you to come in for a visit and see all the wonderful cards, chocolates – and fresh buttercream fudge! – and, of course, beautiful flowers we have in store.

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