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The History of Valentine’s Day

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

To most of us, Valentine’s Day is a chance to buy each other chocolates, teddy bears and celebrate love. However, February 14 hasn’t always been so full of sweets; where did these traditions of love and flowers come from?  

Here are some fun facts about the origins of Valentine’s Day to share with your loved ones!

Some trace the origins of the holiday to a Pagan fertility festival where animals were sacrificed, and women would be selected to be paired with a man. 

The tradition of giving chocolate began with Richard Cadbury (a name we still know today!)

Cupid holds his roots in Ancient Greece, often believed to be based off of Eros, the Greek god of love. 

Valentine’s Day was widely celebrated across Great Britain by the 18th century, where friends and lovers would gift each other with coins and cards and handwritten notes. 

In the 5th century, February 14 was officially declared as Valentine’s Day in Rome. 

In the late 1800s, messages began appearing on Heart Shaped Candy (however, these candies were originally medical lozenges)

Origins are traced to Ancient Rome where the Roman Emperor was trying to strengthen his army and didn’t let young men marry, but Saint Valentine went against this and married couples in secret. As a result of his disobedience, Saint Valentine was executed on February 14.  

For more fun facts, check out History.com’s many articles on the origin of Valentine’s Day! 



Maddie is a fourth year student at the University of Ottawa majoring in History. She is a major fan of Friends, and The Office and is a geek for all things history. Maddie loves food, relaxing, and her cat.
Just your average criminology major, who enjoys watching Supernatural, The Boys and occasionally catching a hockey game. Probably off somewhere writing a novel!