St. Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day, or St Valentine's Day, is celebrated every year on 14 February.
It is the traditional day when people show their affection for another person or people by sending Valentine's cards, presenting flowers, or offering chocolates with messages of love.
Who was St Valentine?
The day gets its name from a famous saint, but there are several stories of who he was.
The popular belief about St Valentine is that he was a bishop from Rome in the third century AD.
Emperor Claudius II had banned marriage because he thought married men were bad soldiers. Valentine felt this was unfair, so he broke the rules and continued to conduct marriages in secret.
When Claudius found out, Valentine was thrown in jail and beheaded.
In jail, he fell in love with the jailer's daughter. It is thought that on the evening of his execution the bishop passed her a note which read "from your Valentine". This story has blossomed into the defining tradition of Valentine's Day.
In recent years it has also become big business. In the UK alone, more than 20 million pounds is spent on flowers, whilst in the United States over 1 billion dollars is forked out on chocolates. Traditionally these were sent anonymously, but nowadays people often make it clear who is sending each 'Valentine'.
Valentine's Day, or its equivalent, is now celebrated in many countries around the world.