Why Do We Call February 14 Valentine’s Day?

Why Do We Call February 14 Valentine's Day

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Every February 14th, hearts flutter with anticipation as people worldwide celebrate Valentine’s Day. But why do we call February 14 Valentine’s Day and is dedicated to love and affection? The origins of calling February 14 Valentine’s Day are a fascinating journey through history, tradition, and the tales of love that have shaped our cultural landscape. Unraveling the mystery behind this heartfelt celebration unveils intriguing insights into the customs and events that have given rise to the universal recognition of Valentine’s Day. Let’s embark on this exploration to understand the roots of the endearing term associated with the day of love.

The Saint and the Date

The journey of Valentine’s Day nomenclature intertwines with the legends surrounding St. Valentine. The question that naturally arises is, why do we call February 14 Valentine’s Day? The answer lies in the commemoration of St. Valentine, a Christian martyr associated with acts of love and compassion. Historical accounts suggest that St. Valentine defied Roman Emperor Claudius II’s decree against marriages, clandestinely uniting couples in matrimony. This benevolent act led to his execution on February 14 in the year 269 AD.

The association of St. Valentine with love and sacrifice gradually transformed this day into a celebration of affection. As centuries passed, the name Valentine became synonymous with romantic expressions and gestures. The coupling of the saint’s name with February 14 has endured through cultural and historical evolution, creating the Valentine’s Day we recognize today. This intertwining of ancient traditions with a date on the calendar contributes to the rich tapestry of Valentine’s Day lore. The choice of February 14 as the day of celebration adds a layer of historical significance, blending the commemoration of a saint’s sacrifice with the universal theme of love and togetherness.

February 14 Valentine's Day

Evolution of Celebrations

Over the centuries, the celebration of February 14 has undergone a metamorphosis, evolving from religious observances to a day synonymous with romantic expressions. Understanding why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day involves tracing the evolution of these celebrations.

In medieval times, Valentine’s Day gained popularity as a day to express affection through written messages. Poetic declarations of love, often exchanged anonymously, became a hallmark of this day. By the Renaissance era, the exchange of handmade cards and tokens of affection became more formalized.

The 18th century saw the commercialization of Valentine’s Day, with the mass production of cards and the rise of the printing press making expressions of love more accessible. The term “Valentine” became not only associated with the saint but also with the messages exchanged during this day.

By the 19th century, the Victorians elevated the celebration, incorporating elaborate decorations, lace, and intricate designs into their Valentine’s cards. The concept of sending cards anonymously persisted, adding an air of mystery and excitement to the day.

The evolution of Valentine’s Day into a celebration of love, marked by the exchange of tokens, cards, and affectionate messages, played a pivotal role in establishing its current identity. This transition reflects the enduring human desire to express love and affection in various forms, making February 14 a day cherished for its sentimental significance.

Cultural Influences on Terminology

The terminology of Valentine’s Day has been significantly influenced by cultural shifts and literary contributions. Exploring why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day involves delving into the impact of cultural elements that have shaped the language associated with this celebration.

In the 14th century, the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer played a pivotal role in associating February 14 with romantic love. Chaucer’s poem, “Parlement of Foules,” links the day with the mating season of birds, creating an allegorical connection between avian courtship and human romance. This literary association contributed to the gradual elevation of February 14 as a day dedicated to expressions of love.

The Victorian era, known for its emphasis on sentimentality and elaborate expressions of emotion, further molded the language of Valentine’s Day. The intricate and ornate cards exchanged during this period often featured romantic verses and declarations of affection. The use of the term “Valentine” became more entrenched in the lexicon of love during these times.

In the 20th century, the rise of popular culture, including films, music, and advertising, further solidified the association between February 14 and romantic love. The media played a crucial role in popularizing the notion of Valentine’s Day as a day for couples to express their love through various means, from greeting cards to gifts.

The cultural influences on the terminology surrounding Valentine’s Day showcase the dynamic interplay between literature, art, and societal norms. The evolution of language and expressions of love reflects the ever-changing tapestry of human emotions, contributing to the enduring charm of calling February 14 Valentine’s Day.

Commercialization and Globalization

In the modern era, the commercialization and globalization of Valentine’s Day have significantly influenced the terminology associated with this celebration. Understanding why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day involves examining the impact of commercial enterprises and the globalization of cultural practices.

The mid-19th century witnessed the mass production of Valentine’s Day cards, marking the beginning of the commercialization of the celebration. As printing technology advanced, the accessibility of cards increased, making it easier for people to participate in the tradition. The commodification of love became entrenched, with the exchange of gifts, flowers, and confectionery becoming integral to the celebration.

In the 20th century, the globalization of popular culture further disseminated the concept of Valentine’s Day across borders. Movies, music, and advertisements reinforced the idea of February 14 as a day dedicated to expressions of romantic love. The English term “Valentine’s Day” became a universal identifier for this celebration, transcending linguistic and cultural differences.

Commercial enterprises seized the opportunity to capitalize on the sentimentality associated with Valentine’s Day, promoting a wide array of products as essential expressions of love. The term “Valentine” extended beyond cards to encompass a spectrum of items, from jewelry to romantic getaways, further contributing to the vernacular of the day.

As the world became more interconnected, the global adoption of Valentine’s Day terminology solidified its status as an internationally recognized celebration of love. The commercialization and globalization of the day’s customs have played a pivotal role in shaping why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day, transforming it from a localized observance to a global phenomenon embraced by people of diverse cultures worldwide.

Symbolism and Traditions

The symbolism and traditions surrounding Valentine’s Day contribute significantly to the nomenclature of this heartfelt celebration. Understanding why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day involves unraveling the rich tapestry of symbols and customs that have become synonymous with expressions of love.

One iconic symbol associated with Valentine’s Day is the heart, representing the seat of emotions and affection. The use of heart-shaped symbols in cards, decorations, and gifts has become a universal language of love, reinforcing the emotional significance of the day.

The tradition of sending cards, often embellished with romantic messages, further solidifies the association of February 14 with expressions of love. These cards, commonly known as valentines, play a crucial role in the terminology of the day, encapsulating sentiments that range from playful to profound.

The exchange of flowers, particularly red roses, is another deeply ingrained tradition associated with Valentine’s Day. The red rose, often considered the flower of love, adds a visual and aromatic layer to the celebration, enhancing the overall romantic ambiance.

The tradition of gifting chocolates and sweets on Valentine’s Day also contributes to the terminology of the celebration. Sweet treats symbolize the sweetness of love and are exchanged as delightful tokens of affection.

Understanding why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day involves recognizing these symbols and traditions as integral components of the celebration’s identity. The collective adoption and continuation of these customs have shaped the linguistic landscape of the day, giving rise to the familiar and endearing term that resonates with people around the world.

The Influence of Literature and Arts 

The realms of literature and arts have played a profound role in shaping the terminology and essence of Valentine’s Day. Examining why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day involves delving into the impact of literary works and artistic expressions that have contributed to the romantic aura surrounding this celebration.

Throughout history, poets and authors have drawn inspiration from the themes of love and romance associated with Valentine’s Day. The works of Shakespeare, for instance, are replete with references to love and courtship, creating a literary backdrop that enhances the cultural significance of the day. Phrases and expressions from these writings have seeped into the vernacular, further embedding the term “Valentine’s Day” into our collective consciousness.

Artistic representations, including paintings and sculptures, have also played a crucial role in reinforcing the romantic associations of February 14. Visual depictions of love stories and tender moments have contributed to the creation of a visual language that complements the written expressions of affection.

Moreover, the rise of popular music in the 20th century further solidified the connection between Valentine’s Day and romantic love. Love songs, with their melodic tunes and heartfelt lyrics, became anthems for couples celebrating their affection on this special day. The influence of these musical creations on the popular understanding of Valentine’s Day nomenclature is undeniable.

Modern Celebrations and Social Media Impact

In the contemporary era, the celebration of Valentine’s Day has been significantly shaped by modern trends and the pervasive influence of social media. Understanding why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day involves recognizing the impact of current cultural shifts on the terminology associated with this romantic celebration.

Social media platforms have become instrumental in shaping and popularizing the language of love on Valentine’s Day. Hashtags like #ValentinesDay and #LoveIsInTheAir trend globally, creating a digital space where people share their experiences, sentiments, and expressions of affection. This online dialogue has contributed to the modern lexicon associated with the day, further embedding the term “Valentine’s Day” into the digital vernacular.

The commercial aspect of the celebration has also evolved in the digital age. E-commerce platforms capitalize on the ease of online shopping, promoting a wide array of Valentine’s Day gifts, from personalized items to virtual experiences. The convenience of digital transactions has further streamlined the process of expressing love on February 14.

Moreover, the influence of influencers and celebrities on social media platforms has played a role in shaping the perception and language associated with Valentine’s Day. High-profile couples often share their romantic gestures, reinforcing the cultural narrative surrounding the day and perpetuating the use of the term “Valentine’s Day” in contemporary discussions.

Cross-Cultural Adaptations

As Valentine’s Day traverses across borders, it undergoes fascinating adaptations in various cultures, enriching the global tapestry of expressions of love. Understanding why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day involves exploring the diverse ways different cultures interpret and embrace this celebration.

In Western cultures, the romantic connotations of Valentine’s Day are well-established, with traditions like exchanging cards, flowers, and chocolates being deeply ingrained. The term “Valentine’s Day” seamlessly integrates into the linguistic fabric of these societies, becoming a symbol of romantic affection.

In Asian cultures, where traditional festivals often emphasize familial and societal bonds, Valentine’s Day has found unique expressions. In Japan, for example, the celebration is divided into two parts: one where women give chocolates to men, and another where men reciprocate a month later. The term “Valentine’s Day” is adopted into local languages, blending seamlessly with cultural traditions.

In recent years, the celebration has gained traction in non-Western cultures as a day to express love and affection. The term “Valentine’s Day” is often incorporated into local languages and adapted to suit the cultural nuances of each region, highlighting the universality of the sentiment while embracing diversity in expression.

Cross-cultural adaptations reveal that the term “Valentine’s Day” transcends linguistic and geographical boundaries. Its incorporation into various cultures demonstrates the universal appeal of celebrating love and affection on February 14, showcasing how the term has become a global identifier for this cherished day.

Expressions Beyond Romantic Love

While Valentine’s Day is traditionally associated with romantic love, the terminology has expanded to encompass a broader spectrum of relationships and expressions of affection. Understanding why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day involves recognizing the evolution of this celebration to embrace various forms of love.

In contemporary society, Valentine’s Day has become an opportunity to celebrate love in all its manifestations. The term “Valentine’s Day” now includes expressions of love towards friends, family, and even oneself. The celebration has evolved beyond romantic partnerships to become a day to appreciate and express gratitude for all meaningful relationships.

Friendship, often celebrated on February 13 as Galentine’s Day, has found its place in the Valentine’s Day narrative. The term “Valentine’s Day” seamlessly extends to include expressions of friendship and camaraderie, reinforcing the idea that love, in its diverse forms, deserves recognition and celebration.

Family bonds are also celebrated on Valentine’s Day, with parents exchanging tokens of affection with their children and vice versa. The term “Valentine’s Day” now encapsulates the warmth and love shared within families, broadening the scope of the celebration beyond romantic entanglements.

Furthermore, the notion of self-love has gained prominence in recent years. Individuals use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity for self-care, reflection, and self-appreciation. The term “Valentine’s Day” encompasses this empowering aspect, signifying that love, in all its forms, starts with oneself.

In this way, the terminology associated with Valentine’s Day has evolved to mirror the inclusive nature of contemporary relationships. The term “Valentine’s Day” now embraces a wide array of expressions, making it a day to celebrate love in all its beautiful forms.

Commercial Impact and Consumerism

The commercial impact of Valentine’s Day on consumer behavior is undeniable, influencing the terminology and expressions associated with this celebration. Examining why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day involves acknowledging the significant role of consumerism in shaping the language and customs surrounding this romantic occasion.

Retailers eagerly anticipate the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day as a peak season for sales. The demand for flowers, chocolates, jewelry, and other romantic gifts skyrockets during this period. The term “Valentine’s Day” becomes a marketing tool, strategically employed by businesses to promote a wide array of products catering to expressions of love.

The language used in advertisements and promotional materials often reinforces the romantic associations of Valentine’s Day. Phrases like “Say it with love this Valentine’s Day” or “Find the perfect Valentine’s gift” become commonplace, adding to the commercial lexicon associated with the celebration.

E-commerce platforms capitalize on the convenience of online shopping, offering special Valentine’s Day deals and discounts. The ease of digital transactions further fuels consumer spending during this period. The term “Valentine’s Day” becomes synonymous with shopping sprees and the pursuit of the ideal gift for loved ones.

The commercial impact extends to the hospitality industry, with restaurants, hotels, and travel agencies promoting special Valentine’s Day packages. The term “Valentine’s Day” infiltrates the service sector, becoming a marker for themed events, romantic getaways, and fine dining experiences.

Criticism and Alternative Perspectives

Despite its widespread popularity, Valentine’s Day is not without its critics, and alternative perspectives on the celebration have emerged. Examining why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day involves acknowledging the criticisms and diverse opinions that surround this romantic observance.

Some critics argue that Valentine’s Day has become overly commercialized, with businesses capitalizing on societal expectations to express love through material gifts. The term “Valentine’s Day” is, for some, synonymous with consumerism, prompting a reconsideration of the authentic expressions of love.

Others express discontent with the perceived exclusivity of Valentine’s Day, contending that it may inadvertently marginalize individuals who are not in romantic relationships. The term “Valentine’s Day” may evoke feelings of exclusion for those who do not conform to the traditional narrative of romantic love.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement advocating for alternative celebrations and expressions of love. The term “Valentine’s Day” is, in some circles, being replaced by terms like “Galentine’s Day” or “Self-Love Day,” promoting inclusivity and emphasizing the importance of all forms of love, not just the romantic variety.

Some individuals critique the pressure associated with Valentine’s Day, arguing that the expectation to deliver grand gestures of love on a specific date can be stressful and inauthentic. The term “Valentine’s Day” may, for them, signify societal expectations that overshadow the spontaneous and genuine expressions of affection.

Acknowledging these criticisms and alternative perspectives adds depth to the exploration of why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day. It opens a dialogue on the evolving nature of love celebrations, encouraging a more inclusive and reflective approach to expressing affection beyond the traditional norms associated with the day.

Cultural Variations in Celebrations

Cultural variations in the celebration of Valentine’s Day offer a fascinating lens through which to explore the reasons behind why we call February 14 Valentine’s Day. Across the globe, different cultures infuse their unique traditions, customs, and meanings into this day of love.

In Western cultures, the term “Valentine’s Day” is often associated with romantic gestures such as the exchange of cards, flowers, and intimate dinners. The celebration leans heavily on the historical and literary associations of the day, reflecting the influence of Western traditions.

In contrast, some Eastern cultures may adopt the celebration but with distinctive customs. For example, South Korea has embraced the concept of Valentine’s Day but with a twist – here, it’s customary for women to give gifts to men on February 14, while men reciprocate on March 14, known as White Day. This cultural variation in the adoption of the term “Valentine’s Day” reflects a blending of global celebration with local traditions.

In Latin American countries, the celebration of love extends beyond romantic partners to include friends and family. The term “Valentine’s Day” encapsulates a broader spectrum of love, incorporating diverse relationships into the celebration.

In Islamic cultures, where public displays of affection might be more reserved, the term “Valentine’s Day” may not be as commonly used. Instead, expressions of love may be more private and personal, aligning with cultural norms and values.

These cultural variations underscore the adaptability of the celebration and the term “Valentine’s Day” to diverse sociocultural contexts. The way in which the day is embraced and the terminology employed reveal the intricate interplay between global influences and localized expressions of love, showcasing the multifaceted nature of this universal celebration.

Historical Influence on Contemporary Celebrations

The historical underpinnings of Valentine’s Day continue to exert a profound influence on contemporary celebrations, shedding light on why February 14 is synonymous with expressions of love. The historical legacy embedded in the term associated with this date contributes to the enduring charm and significance of Valentine’s Day.

The connection between Valentine’s Day and romantic love can be traced back to the martyrdom of St. Valentine in ancient Rome. The term “Valentine’s Day” becomes a bridge between the historical narrative of a compassionate saint and the modern-day celebration centered around love and affection.

In the Middle Ages, the association between birds choosing their mates in mid-February and human courtship further contributed to the romantic symbolism of the day. The term “Valentine’s Day” encapsulates these historical elements, infusing the celebration with a rich tapestry of traditions and narratives.

During the Victorian era, the exchange of elaborate cards and tokens of affection became popular, cementing the association between the day and expressions of love. The term “Valentine’s Day” carries with it the echoes of this historical period, symbolizing the continuation of traditions that have shaped the contemporary celebration.

The resilience of the term “Valentine’s Day” in the face of societal changes highlights the enduring power of historical narratives in shaping cultural practices. The celebration has evolved, but its connection to historical roots through the term “Valentine’s Day” serves as a reminder of the deep-seated human inclination to commemorate love and affection in a meaningful and collective manner.

Expressions of Love in the Digital Age

In the digital age, the celebration of love on February 14 has taken on new dimensions, and the terminology associated with Valentine’s Day reflects this technological evolution. Understanding why February 14 is synonymous with expressions of love involves exploring the impact of digital platforms on modern relationships.

Social media platforms play a pivotal role in shaping how love is expressed on Valentine’s Day. The term associated with the day seamlessly integrates into online conversations, hashtags, and shared sentiments. Digital expressions of love, from heartfelt messages to virtual gifts, have become an integral part of the contemporary celebration.

The term linked to Valentine’s Day is now intertwined with online rituals such as sharing photos, creating collaborative playlists, and posting affectionate messages. These digital expressions amplify the celebration beyond physical boundaries, allowing people to connect and express their love across vast distances.

E-cards and virtual greetings have become modern iterations of traditional paper cards, influencing the language associated with Valentine’s Day. The term in question now extends beyond physical tokens to encompass the virtual realm, where creativity and personalization flourish in the form of multimedia messages.

The advent of online shopping has revolutionized the way people choose and exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day. The term tied to the celebration seamlessly integrates with online searches, promotions, and transactional processes, reflecting the digitalization of the gift-giving experience.

The Linguistic Evolution of Love

The evolution of the term associated with February 14 reflects the changing linguistic landscape of expressions of love. Unraveling why February 14 is referred to as a day of love involves tracing how language has evolved to encapsulate the diverse and dynamic ways people perceive and convey affection.

In the early days, expressions of love may have been more reserved, and the terminology associated with the day might not have carried the same weight. However, as societal norms transformed, and cultural expressions of love became more nuanced, the term evolved to encompass a broader spectrum of emotions.

The linguistic evolution of the term mirrors broader societal shifts towards more inclusive and diverse expressions of love. In the contemporary era, the term associated with Valentine’s Day reflects an understanding that love is not confined to traditional romantic relationships but extends to friendships, familial bonds, and self-love.

The expansion of the term’s connotations aligns with a more inclusive approach to the celebration, acknowledging the multifaceted nature of love. The linguistic evolution reflects a societal recognition that love exists in various forms, each deserving of acknowledgment and celebration.

The digital age has also influenced the linguistic nuances of love expressions. The term seamlessly integrates with online conversations, where emojis, memes, and gifs become modern-day symbols of affection. This linguistic adaptation showcases the dynamic nature of language in reflecting contemporary modes of communication.

Controversies Surrounding February 14 Valentine’s Day

While Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated, it is not without its controversies, and the associated term is often at the center of debates. The question of why February 14 is designated as a day of love sparks varied opinions, with critics and skeptics pointing to several contentious aspects.

One recurring criticism is the commercialization of Valentine’s Day, with detractors arguing that the pressure to purchase gifts and participate in expensive romantic gestures undermines the authenticity of expressions of love. The term tied to the celebration becomes a symbol of consumerism, with some expressing concerns that genuine emotions are overshadowed by material expectations.

Another controversy revolves around the perceived exclusionary nature of Valentine’s Day, often emphasizing romantic partnerships to the detriment of other relationships. The term becomes a point of contention, as some argue that the celebration should be more inclusive, recognizing various forms of love, including friendships and familial bonds.

Moreover, critics highlight the potential stress and anxiety associated with Valentine’s Day, emphasizing the societal expectation for grand gestures and elaborate expressions of affection. The term becomes associated with societal pressures that may lead to feelings of inadequacy or disappointment among those who cannot or choose not to conform to these expectations.

In recent years, discussions surrounding the environmental impact of Valentine’s Day have emerged. Detractors point to the excessive use of paper for cards, the environmental footprint of cut flowers, and the production of single-use plastics in the form of trinkets and packaging. The term is intertwined with these debates, reflecting concerns about the ecological consequences of widespread celebrations.

The controversies surrounding Valentine’s Day highlight the complex interplay between societal expectations, commercial interests, and individual expressions of love. The associated term becomes a focal point in these discussions, representing the multifaceted nature of a celebration that elicits both adoration and criticism.


In conclusion, the term woven into the fabric of Valentine’s Day encapsulates a rich tapestry of history, cultural influences, and contemporary dynamics. Exploring why February 14 is synonymous with expressions of love unravels a narrative that spans centuries, embracing diverse traditions, linguistic evolution, and global adaptations. Despite controversies and shifting societal norms, the enduring charm of the term lies in its ability to encapsulate the universal human desire to celebrate and express affection, making Valentine’s Day a timeless celebration cherished for its depth and inclusivity.


Why do we call February 14 Valentine’s Day?

February 14 is referred to as Valentine’s Day due to its historical association with St. Valentine, a Christian martyr associated with acts of compassion and love. Over time, cultural, literary, and commercial influences have contributed to the celebration, shaping the terminology and traditions we recognize today.

How did Valentine’s Day evolve over the centuries?

Valentine’s Day evolved from medieval traditions of expressing affection through written messages to a commercialized celebration with cards, gifts, and elaborate expressions of love. The evolution reflects changing cultural norms and societal influences over the centuries.

What cultural variations exist in celebrating February 14?

Different cultures celebrate Valentine’s Day with unique customs. For example, Japan has separate days for men and women to exchange gifts, while in Latin American countries, the celebration extends to include friends and family. These variations showcase the adaptability of the celebration across diverse societies.

How has the digital age influenced Valentine’s Day celebrations?

The digital age has revolutionized Valentine’s Day with online expressions of love, virtual greetings, and e-commerce-driven gift exchanges. The terminology associated with the celebration seamlessly integrates into online platforms, reflecting contemporary modes of communication.

What controversies surround Valentine’s Day?

Controversies include critiques of commercialization, concerns about exclusivity emphasizing romantic partnerships, and debates on environmental impacts. The term associated with Valentine’s Day becomes entwined in discussions about societal expectations, consumerism, and the ecological footprint of widespread celebrations.

Is Valentine’s Day only about romantic love?

No, the celebration has evolved to include expressions of love beyond romantic relationships. The term now encompasses love for friends, family, and oneself, reflecting a broader understanding of affection and appreciation for all meaningful relationships.

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