The History of Valentine's Day and Its Impact on Global Business

The History of Valentine's Day and Its Impact on Global Business

In 2022, the estimated spending on Valentine’s day was approximately $23.9B in the USA alone according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). This paints a very clear picture of how Valentine’s day has evolved from a day of Purification to a day of business.

Valentine’s day, popularly known as St Valentine’s day, is considered the most important day for people who are in love. Ironically, It’s also the most depressing day for people who are yet to find love as it comes as a painful reminder of their loneliness. Either way, it’s one of the most anticipated days of the year.
It’s the day we finally have the courage to express our love to someone we have a crush on in various forms. But is this day all about love?
According to a National Retail Federation (NRF) study, Valentine’s Day is the fifth largest spending event in the United States with estimated spending of over $23.9B in 2022! That describes the impact this day has not only on people.
In this article, we will discuss Valentine's Day's history and Its Impact on Global Business.

What is Valentine’s day?

Valentine’s day is the day we celebrate our love. Initially celebrated as a Christian Feast day of Saint Valentine, it soon became an annual festival for lovers. This is the day we express our love in so many forms. Some choose to do something special for their loved ones while others shower their loved ones with gifts. It’s not only a day to do something special but also a competition to stand out.

The History of Valentine's Day and how it has become a global phenomenon

There are some popular legends about the origin of Valentine’s day. According to Catholic Church, there are three different St. Valentines who were martyred during the Roman era. So there has always been a certain ambiguity regarding the origin of St Valentine’s. We will try to cover it in the best way possible. Let’s find out the history of Valentine’s day and how it became a global phenomenon.

Ancient Rome and the celebration of Lupercalia

The people of ancient Rome had an annual Purification festival known as Lupercalia. It was celebrated on February 15 as a day of purifying the city and promoting health and fertility. It was originally known as Februa after the name of a supposed purification deity called Februus. Today we know Valentine’s day as a day of love and giving gifts to our loved ones. The color red has become the signature color for Valentine's day which is ironic if we take a look at the early traditional celebration of this day. The festival of Lupercalia would involve a lot of blood. The festival would begin with the sacrifice of a male goat and a dog in the presence of Jupiter's chief priest. It followed another bizarre ceremony where the Luperci would approach the altar, anoint their forehead with the blood, and laugh. There was also some sort of naked dancing and running in an anticlockwise direction around the hill, let’s not talk about that.

Lupercalia festival Valentine’s day
The ceremony would proceed with stipping the goat’s skin and turning it into strips. They would then dip the strips into the blood and slap both women and the crop field with it in order to make them fertile. Legends also say, there was another ceremony later that day when all the young women would put their names on a rounded vase and the eligible male candidates would choose a name for marriage. This certainly was the essence of the day that later matched the essence of today’s Valentine’s day.

Christianization of Rome and the origin of Valentine’s day

The Christianization of Rome had seen a massive change in the way of life for Romans. The first thing the early church leaders did was Christianize all the pagan festivals. And that’s how the Pagan festival of Lupercalia ended up being the feast day of St Valentine. Two centuries after the famous execution of St. Valentine's on February 14, Pope Gelasius merged the two days into one, and that’s how the Pagan festival of Lupercalia became St. Valentine's Day. As we stated earlier, there were three different St Valentines recognized by the Catholic church, and all of them were martyred during the persecution era by Roman Emperors. During the third Century in Rome, Emperor Claudius II had this bizarre idea that single men could make better soldiers than the ones with families. So he called for a ban on marriage for young men. This one priest named Valentine saw the injustice in the decree and started performing a marriage for young lovers secretly. His action was eventually got discovered and he was executed on February 14.

St Valentine
Another story suggests that Valentine was imprisoned while assisting the Christian prisoners in escaping. There were also some legends claiming that he fell in love with the daughter of the jailer and sent out the first-ever Valentine’s day greeting which read “From your Valentine”. There is no historical evidence of these stories, but they surely build the foundation for the most romantic day of the year.
Another essential figure we see on most Valentine’s day cards and greetings is this naked Hawkeye fella named Cupid. The famous love-spreading naked fella is actually a Roman God also known as Eros, the God of love in Greek mythology.

Valentine’s day Cupid

Valentine’s day in the middle age

The feast day of St. Valentine was still way far from being a day of Love and romance until the 14th century. There was a common belief among the people of France and England that the mating season of Birds starts on 14 February. It gradually started incepting ideas about how Valentine’s day could also be a day for romance. In the year 1375, English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the poem “Parliament of Foules,” which presents valentine’s day as a day of the romantic celebration. It practically seeded the idea of exchanging romantic greetings on Valentine’s day.
During the 15th century, Charles, Duke of Orléans wrote rondeau to his wife who was being held in the Tower of London. His rondeau starts: "Je suis desja d'amour tanné. Ma tres doulce Valentinée..." which translates as “I am already sick of love, my very gentle Valentine”.


Valentine’s day was also remorsefully mentioned in William Shakespeare's Hamlet (1600–1601) by Ophelia.

  • "Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's day,
  • All in the morning betime,
  • And I a maid at your window,
  • To be your Valentine.”

Modern Day and its impact on Global Business

By the 1700s, Valentine’s day had already started getting a lot of attention all over the world, especially in North America as a result of European colonization. It didn’t take long for Valentine’s day to become a tradition as the practice of exchanging small tokens of affection or handwritten notes had already been popular on Valentine’s day. One American woman, Esther Howland was one of the pioneers who foresaw the potential business in formal, English-style greetings. This American artist cum entrepreneur is widely known for popularizing Valentine's Day greeting cards in America. Her contribution to establishing this multi-million-dollar industry gained her the nickname "Mother of the American Valentine". Today Valentine’s day is celebrated all over the World and having gone through all the Christinizasion, Colonization, and Industrial Revolution, the prospect of Valentine’s day changed forever in 1913 when Kansas City-based firm named Hallmark started producing Valentine’s Day cards.

Let’s take a look at some of the most fascinating facts about valentine’s day business:

  • The estimated spending on Valentine’s day was over $23.9B in 2022 in the USA as reported by National Retail Federation (NRF)
  • 10% of those spending was used to buy flowers
  • Approximately 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent every year, which is the second most card-sending holiday after Christmas
  • Couples spent almost $3.7 billion on nights out on Valentine’s day last year
  • Americans love chocolate as Valentine’s gift which is approximately 94%
  • The gifts giving are no longer limited to greeting cards or flowers
  • Businesses all over the world have special campaigns for the occasion of Valentine’s day

Valentine’s day is no longer about just cards and flowers. Valentine's-Day-themed merchandise such as headbands, clips, sunglasses, makeup, nail lacquer, jewelry, wigs, costumes, and other hair accessories are also getting popular nowadays. For instance, Costumes and wigs are getting a lot of popularity nowadays as couples are now using them to spice up their romantic life and fulfill some of their wildest fantasies.

Valentine’s day costume

It goes beyond saying how important Valentine’s day is for all the lovebirds around the globe. No matter how much we spend on this day for our loved ones, it’s all worth it if we find the right person. The history of Valentine’s day shows us that it’s not just about the gift but the romantic significance that makes this day extra special.

1 comment

  • Very Good and informative writing! Thanks for posting

    - Sophia Black

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