Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is celebrated in many countries, but what are the differences between today's celebration and in the past? Read the text to find out some curious facts about the most romantic day of the year.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.

Valentine's Day is on 14 February, and it can seem as if the world is full of couples who are celebrating their love. Some couples might celebrate with dinner at a nice restaurant, flowers, chocolates or other presents. Some single people might put a post on social media about why they hate 'V-Day' or maybe they just avoid it completely. But it's impossible not to know that Valentine's is happening. And that's not surprising when over half of all Brits and Americans celebrate Valentine's in some way.

The price of love

For most of these romantic people, Valentine's Day means spending money. British people spend much less than Americans. The average Brit spends £28.45, while the average American spends $221.34 (approximately £170.81). Interestingly, in the UK, all three adult generations are likely to buy something for Valentine's (around 68–69% of them). But in the USA, millennials spend slightly more than Generation X, and both spend almost a third more than baby-boomers. Across all generations, on both sides of the Atlantic, men spend more money than women. 

The beginning of modern Valentine's Day

Today Valentine's is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, France, Denmark, Italy and Australia as well as the USA and England. But it's the USA where the celebration really became mass market, because of a woman called Esther Howland. She became known as the 'mother of Valentine's' after she created a successful business making and selling greetings cards in the 1840s. She got the idea from valentine cards from Europe that were decorated with lace and flowers and were very expensive. Then, in the early 1900s, two things happened that meant valentine cards became really popular: cheap printed cards were made by the greeting cards company, Hallmark, and the price of postage stamps fell.

Vinegar valentines

At about the same time as this, another kind of valentine card was popular. 'Vinegar valentines' were nasty, anonymous cards that people sent to someone they didn't like. This pre-social media way of trolling people was popular for a hundred years, but not many examples of the cards are in museums today. Museums have big collections of traditional valentine cards, but it's no surprise that not many people kept an unkind valentine card.

Further back in history

Valentine's Day has been celebrated in some way for 600 years. As far back as the 17th century, people gave cards or presents, but the very first valentine messages were written down in the 1400s. In 1415, the Duke of Orleans in France sent his wife a Valentine's Day letter while he was in prison in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt. It is the earliest example of a written valentine message. However, the exact history of Valentine's Day is not known because there were three saints with the name Valentine. One story says that Valentine was a priest. He performed marriages at a time when the Emperor thought that single men were better soldiers than married men. The Emperor was so angry that he punished him with death. Another story says that Valentine helped Christians escape from Roman prisons. A third story says he sent a letter to a girl while he was in prison and signed it 'From your Valentine'.

Whichever story is true, the Catholic Church chose 14 February for St Valentine's Day in AD 270. They probably wanted to replace the pagan festival of Lupercalia on 15 February with the new Christian celebration.

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B1 English level (intermediate)

Submitted by jyoti Chaudhary on Sun, 01/05/2022 - 12:35


What is a good way to celebrate love?
this is not the way of representing love according to valentine's day or some other day else if both partners loves each other by heart so there is no need to celebrate to show up our love. love is care, and respect and always motivates you to do something for your better career. love is not dependent on gifts, and this type of day. I have never celebrated Valentine's day in my life. in the future, I will never celebrate this kind of thing.

Submitted by Susan Celis on Thu, 10/02/2022 - 23:17


More than celebrating love by buying things or paying money for something, the true way to celebrate is to show your partner how much you love him every day.

Submitted by Thinthinmyoe on Mon, 28/06/2021 - 06:51

I think love should exist between the two lovers whenever.The lovers must care each other and share happiness and sadness with each other.If so,they will possess every Valentine's Day.
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Mon, 15/02/2021 - 15:56

Valentine's Day evokes a kind of a pit stop. Slow down, stop, check if the love is working properly, and drive forward! Do you guys think that Valentine's Day should do it once a year?? *:ღ ╠ ╣ a Ρpy ღ:*♪(๑ノ ᴗ ◔ิ๑) *¨*•.

Submitted by PARIMALA MADIAZHAKAN on Mon, 15/02/2021 - 04:05

In my opinion, good way to celebrate Valentine Day is just sharing the love and care the love ones is more important. For me, expensive stuff or presents does not give me happiness on Valentine Day. A wish and love from a partner keep us feel happy and enjoy the day of full of love. A caring partner does not need to show the love from buying some presents on that day. The important thing is a caring couples need to respect each other on that day and respect the presence of the love ones. Thats all from me. Thank you.
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Submitted by danisep on Thu, 11/02/2021 - 00:55

Sharing everything with each other not just presents instead, thoughts, words, and our hearts. Likewise, I think that the best presents are those that remember me that, my partner knows me and is interested in me. although expensive gifts always gonna be well seen.

Submitted by Tanyang on Mon, 23/11/2020 - 15:51

I have had proposed to my wife on Valentine's Day 5 years ago in China, it was complete surprise and she said 'YSE". It was one of my most happiest days, it was a miracle to my life.

Submitted by thuyphan on Wed, 04/11/2020 - 01:26

I think it doesn’t need an expensive present to show your love. Importantly, you really take care of your lover

Submitted by thuyphan on Tue, 03/11/2020 - 15:40

A present for the one who you love show that you take care of him or her. Especially, the manner you choose the present.

Submitted by DIỄM PHÚC on Sun, 01/11/2020 - 12:35

On Valentine's Day in Viet Nam, I didn't have a bouquet of flowers or a present because I was single. Instead of this, I went to nice view to relax, I felt comfortable.
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Submitted by HadjerDk on Sun, 21/06/2020 - 12:29

we can love each other in all days of year not just in 14 feb ... love isnt flowers greeting cards and chocolate . love is a great feeling
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sat, 30/05/2020 - 21:00

The good way to celebrate love is by dining together, presenting presents like flowers, chocolates, greeting cards and others.

Submitted by NicoZL on Sun, 08/03/2020 - 21:17

Here in Brazil, the valentine's day is in 12 of June, some couples stay in home wich good dinner or making love hehe, but we also can go on a expensive restaurant, some guys like me, buy flowers for my girlfriend, or a good option is chocolate too. Me and my girlfriend start our date on the valentines days, i liked Sorry for my english and hope everyone have a nice day

Submitted by Fariy on Fri, 14/02/2020 - 09:57

In my opinion,I think giving warm embrace, showing kindness and taking care of your lover are better than giving other presents. We don't need to spend money too much on valentine's day and we just need to know the way to make our partner happy without wasting money.

Submitted by Tawfiq.abdelaziz on Wed, 12/02/2020 - 22:38

Hi guys! Let's search first about the root of Valentin
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Submitted by Lale on Wed, 12/02/2020 - 10:56

Hello dear friends. I think that, it is waste of money. Because, you can spent money on the other day. It is show. I don’t comprehend this day reaally. Some people will earn ample money from couple. Due to dont give money to this empty day.
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Submitted by Oksi1001 on Wed, 05/02/2020 - 17:52

Hi everyone! I agree that Valentine's Day is exellent way to earn lods of money for sallers of flowers, valentines and etc. And my attitude to this day is not seriosly. And i'm not upset if i will not celebrate Valentine's Day or will not get a present. Although if i get a gift i will not be upset too. Concerning way to celebrate this day it can be various options, at home or in the cafe or even in the park on a bench...Good atributs it's candles, vine, romantic music and romantic mood surely.

Submitted by lifelearner on Wed, 05/02/2020 - 15:27

I reckon that love is not only meant to be toward sexual partners ,instead it is a feeling of appreciation and gratitude man express for everthing and everyone we love in our lives , for example our parents , our family , our friends ,even our pets, the blessings and belongings we have. In other words Valentins day should be a celebration to thank God for everything we feel gratitude for in our world, in addition to stop the hate and forgive people who hurt us before.

Submitted by parisaach on Mon, 16/09/2019 - 07:51

people use different way to celeberate their love some of them buy gifts, flowers and cards for each other, some of them try to suprise their partner by taking them to a suprise party or interesting places to make them happy. Married people usually celeberate their wedding anniversary and unmarried couples celeberate the anniversary of their acquaintance. All the people who love somebody or hang out with somebody celeberate Valentine's day, they're trying to show their feeling by purchasing some gifts for their partners. Some of my friends buy gift for their family member, they say it is a love day and I love my family. In my opinion, although it is very good to buy a present for the people you love, it is not necessary. people who really love each other can show their love with their behaviour and even with the way they look at each other. Maybe lovers be more happy with a simple sentences like "I love you" than an expensive gift. By the way people are different and you should find the best way to make your partner happy on Valentine's day. said although it is very good to buy a present for the people you love,it is not necessary!! but I think if u dont buy a gift,u will give an excuse to ur partner for end the relationship. i am from iran and i would say ur comment is full of slogan. this day is a race for show-off and boasting in our country. pls be honest!!
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Submitted by iso on Wed, 06/03/2019 - 14:57

I don't celebrate Valentine's day .I'm single men,but I not hate it even though I haven't girl friend.I think Valentine's day is not important for couple because it is just celebration .Some people enjoy Valentaine's day with chocolate that decorated by women.Men who receive chocolate from girl eat chocolate at a home.handsome would get chocolate a lot .

Submitted by cuneyt on Sun, 17/02/2019 - 21:32

Hello everyone, Valentine's day depented capitalist system. the big companies support this system. We are this system puppet. We must love darlings but we can achieve don't spend money.
Couldn't agree more. I respect your perceptive remark! +。:.゚ヽ(*´∀)ノ゚.:。+゚

Submitted by cuneyt on Sun, 17/02/2019 - 21:26

Hello everyone, I can't good write . My writing is bad but I never give up. I always try. Anyway, I don't believe valentine's day. I thınk Valentine's day isn't just one day. It must everyday.
Hi cuneyt, Agree, except "I can't good write. My writing is bad"! _〆┤’-‘*├

Submitted by gullıstan on Thu, 14/02/2019 - 17:34

I respect everyone who celebrates Valentine's Day. but it is not important day for m. gifts, roses etc. very cliché .I think it's too late for me to fall in love with a person. It may sound very romantic, but it makes more sense to fall in love with the sunrise, the tree, the seasons, a beautiful book or music, the smell of coffee...
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Thu, 14/02/2019 - 15:35

Roses are red, violets are blue, Honey is sweet, and so are you!     ♥ ♥ ♥   ♥ ♥ ♥    ♥     ♥      ♥   ♥  ∧_∧  ∧_∧  ♥  ♥ ( ´∀`)(´∀` ) ♥   ♥( つ つ ⊂⊂  ) ♥    ♥         ♥      ♥     ♥         ♥
Sweetheart, VIOLETS AREN'T BLUE, colours violet and purple look similar, but violet is a spectral color, with its own set of wavelengths on the spectrum of visible light. Purple is a dichromatic color, made by combining blue and red. Colours are important things as the smells. xx
Valentine, Thank you for pointing it out. Yes, you're absolutely right. You know, as is usually claimed, "Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words", I think the word "blue" in the poetry is all that is needed to imagine purple as well with the rhyme word "red" since we know that red and blue make purple. What do you think about this quoate? " It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." xx ෆ⃛ෆ⃛ෆ⃛ ♡♡[τ̲̅н̲̅a̲̅и̲̅κ̲̅ ч̲̅o̲̅u̲̅]ᴗ͈ₒᴗ͈♡
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Thu, 14/02/2019 - 15:33

I spend less money but more time to celebrate priceless Valentine's Day....! .☆.*・((ε(*’-‘)_/゚・:*:・。☆【Happy Valentine】☆。・:*:・゚\_(‘-‘*)з))・*.☆  ∧_∧ + .(*`・ω・) ./つγ⌒v⌒ヽ しー( LOVE )    \  /(゚∀゚)     `v” ⊂  ∪

Submitted by sebastian_96m on Tue, 12/02/2019 - 00:31

Hi! Colombian people don't used to celebrated this because most of Latin Americans Countries celebrate this on september, actually we said to september as: Month of love and friendship. Greetings all of you

Submitted by wafafoufouya on Mon, 11/02/2019 - 20:49

For me, the best way to celebrate Love is to meet the one you love and to spend a long time together. absolutely, you can buy a gift or a chocolat, but the most important thing you must do is to express your feeling and to show how deep you care for that person.
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Submitted by Wang Zijian on Sun, 10/02/2019 - 13:43

I'm not familiar with the stories behind the 'baby-boomers', 'Generation X' and 'millennials'. I mean why they are called like this. By the way, Chinese are also celebrating Valentine's Day actively.
Chinese Culture is great, I'd like to know that big and wonderful country... It is the other side of the mirror of Latin Americans

Hello Wang Zijian

There are good explanations of these terms online -- for example, the Cambridge Dictionary's entry for 'baby-boomer' explains how it is related to populations in the US and the UK after the Second World War, and the Wikipedia article goes into quite a bit of depth about the characteristics of these generations.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team