Once I was in grade college, Valentine’s Day was considered one of my favourite holidays. There have been playing cards. There was the likelihood that your crush truly preferred you again. And, there was the chocolate — a lot chocolate.

Little did I do know that the roots of this vacation bore little-to-no resemblance to my childhood expertise of it. We had been by no means taught that Valentine’s Day truly originated with an arguably ugly historic pageant, the place there was no chocolate or change of cute, red-and-pink playing cards.

Download Now: Free Ad Campaign Planning Kit

However adore it or hate it, these are the forms of issues we affiliate with the vacation as we speak. In spite of everything, there is a motive roughly 114 million Valentine’s Day playing cards are exchanged every year — it is what’s turn out to be anticipated of us.

So how on earth did we get from an historic Roman pageant to a vacation that compels many people to spend at least $147 on celebrating it? That story, it seems, is hundreds of years outdated — however we’ll attempt to condense it.

How Valentine’s Day Started and Advanced

Historic Rome

Picture of Circle of Adam Elsheimer The Lupercalian Festival in RomePicture Supply

The roots of Valentine’s Day are cited by some sources to lie within the historic Roman pageant Lupercalia, largely as a result of it happened yearly on February 15 — the day after what’s as we speak the noticed date of Valentine’s Day — and concerned some very primitive types of courtship and matchmaking. However it was additionally historic Rome that noticed the well-known execution of a St. Valentine on February 14, round 278 A.D. Based on legend, he wrote a letter on the night time earlier than his execution to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended, and signed it, “From Your Valentine.”

Over two centuries later, Pope Gelasius ordered that Lupercalia get replaced with the February 14 commentary of St. Valentine’s Day. That set the tone, some imagine, for the day’s forthcoming custom of exchanging “love messages,” maybe in remembrance of St. Valentine’s farewell letter.

The Romans are additionally credited with establishing the thought of Cupid — a god of affection usually depicted with arrows that, because the legend goes, inflict love upon those that are hit by them. The Roman model of Cupid was tailored from Eros, a god of ardour and fertility in Greek mythology. It appears that evidently nobody is kind of positive when cupid turned related to Valentine’s Day, however the truth that each have origins in historic Roman tradition means that there might have been some very early overlap between the 2.

Shakespeare (and Chaucer) in Love

Picture of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18, a principal inspiration for Valentine's Day
Picture Supply

When NPR’s Arnie Seipel got down to discover the historical past of Valentine’s Day, he discovered that it first turned romanticized by traditional authors like William Shakespeare within the late sixteenth century, and Geoffrey Chaucer within the 1300s.


Dartmouth English professor Peter Travis cites Chaucer’s epic poem The Parliament of Fowls, which was one of many first literary references to St. Valentine’s Day, or “Seynt Valentynes day,” as Chaucer spelled it. One such point out is made, Travis explains, alongside the road, “Now welcom somer, with thy sonne sonne, That hast this wintres weders over-shake.” In different phrases, once we have fun love within the coldest depths of winter — in February, as an example — it is so heartwarming that it makes summer season really feel much less far-off.


Some literary historians credit score Shakespeare for the permeation of affection into standard tradition together with his composition of “Sonnet 18” — mentioned to be written between 1593-1601 — a.ok.a., “Shall I examine thee to a summer season’s day?” It is unclear when or how this explicit work turned related to Valentine’s Day, however like Chaucer, Shakespeare compares like to the seasons.

“Whereas summer season days might fade and fall into” colder months, writes Shakespeare analyst Lee Jamieson, “his love is everlasting.”

In fact, Saint Valentine’s day is alluded to outright in Hamlet — written between 1599-1601 — when the character Ophelia recites a music a few younger woman’s expertise with the vacation, which incorporates lyrics like, “Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day,” and, “To be your Valentine.”

The seventeenth Century and Past

The first card ever made for Valentine's Day (by Esther Howland)
Picture Supply

By the 1700s, it is mentioned that Valentine’s Day made its manner from Europe to america, which aligns with the institution of the North American colonies between 1607-1770. It turned conventional, based on HISTORY.com, “for buddies and lovers of all social courses to change small tokens of affection or handwritten notes.” That was extra widespread in England, nevertheless, the place the Industrial Revolution started earlier and ultimately included the manufacturing of “fancy valentines [that] had been extraordinarily costly to import.

It is mentioned that one American lady, Esther Howland, was so intrigued when she obtained her first English valentine greeting in 1847, that she turned infatuated with the thought of producing them within the U.S. She was an early entrepreneur, and instinctively believed that there could possibly be an American marketplace for these formal, English-style greetings. After procuring supplies like high-quality paper and lace from her father, a stationer, she created what many credit score because the earliest American Valentine’s Day greeting playing cards.

As we speak, Howland remains to be honored with the nickname “Mom of the American Valentine,” with many citing her work as the beginning of a multi-million-dollar trade. However it did not occur in a single day — let’s check out how her work paved the best way.

A Transient Timeline of Valentine’s Day Advertising


Charles II of Sweden begins speaking with flowers, by assigning a unique message to every sort. This custom allegedly assigned love and romance to the crimson rose, setting the stage for this flower to be exchanged in the course of the later, commercialized period of Valentine’s Day. Nevertheless, it stays unclear if a selected model is liable for first advertising flowers as a part of Valentine’s Day gift-giving.


The first ever Cadbury heart shaped chocolate box
Picture Supply

In England, the place Valentine’s Day had by now already been celebrated with the change of items and playing cards for a few years, the Cadbury chocolate firm sells the first heart-shaped field of sweets.


In Massachusetts, Howland produces a dozen pattern Valentine’s Day playing cards and sends them off together with her brother to distribute throughout a gross sales journey for his or her father’s firm — S.A. Howland & Sons — hoping to earn $200. As a substitute, he returns with 25X that quantity, indicating a a lot higher-than-expected demand.

Here is an instance of a card Howland created round this time.

Howland Valentine's Day Card

Picture Supply


The primary print commercial for Howland’s playing cards seems within the Worcester Spy.


Necco Candy SweetHearts, the first ever in Valentine's Day history
Picture Supply

Dialog candies are developed, when Daniel Chase — brother of New England Confectionery Firm (NECCO) founder Oliver Chase — makes use of vegetable dye to print phrases onto confections.


Howland incorporates her booming card enterprise because the New England Valentine Firm, working out of her dwelling through an meeting line that was largely comprised of her buddies.


public-domain-images-ester-Cover of a Valentine's Day book published by Howland's company
Picture Supply

The New England Valentine Firm strikes operations from Howland’s dwelling to a Principal Avenue manufacturing facility in Worcester, Massachusetts. That very same yr, the corporate publishes the Valentine Verse Ebook, which contained 131 “verses” that folks might reduce out and paste within playing cards that got here and not using a greeting — or these with a greeting that the customer did not like.

1880 – 1881

Howland sells the New England Valentine Firm to the George C. Whitney Firm.


Workers creating and mass-producing Valentine's Day cards
Picture Supply

Whitney has acquired a minimum of 10 opponents, together with Berlin and Jones, which had turn out to be New York Metropolis’s “largest producer of Valentines.” Ten years later, the corporate strikes to large-scale headquarters on Worcester’s Union Avenue.


The Hershey Chocolate Firm is based, bringing what was beforehand “a European luxurious product” to the U.S.


Dialog candies turn out to be heart-shaped.


American Greetings is based, ultimately turning into considered one of Whitney’s chief opponents.

Valentine's Day card advertisement by American Greeting
Picture Supply


The Hershey Chocolate Firm introduces its Hershey Kisses sweet product. Curiously sufficient, the product was allegedly named Kisses as a result of each time a chunk of chocolate was dropped on the conveyer belt on the Hershey manufacturing facility, it gave the impression of a kiss.

Giant Hershey Kisses sitting on a "Kissmobile"

Picture Supply


That January, an enormous hearth destroys a lot of Whitney’s headquarters. Nevertheless, a lot of the Valentine’s Day merchandise had already been shipped for the season, having little impression on that specific vacation.

Valentine's Day advertisement with red roses and a woman in a gold dress
Picture Supply

That very same yr, Hallmark is based. In the meantime, 1910 additionally noticed the creation of Florists’ Telegraph Supply — as we speak generally known as FTD — which pioneered the distant ordering and supply of flowers, offering a technique to ship them to far-away family members.


Hallmark produces its first Valentine’s Day card.


First ever Valentine's Day advertisement for diamonds
Picture Supply

The De Beers diamond firm launches its “A Diamond is Ceaselessly” marketing campaign, sending the message that gifting high-end jewellery can be utilized as an expression of affection.


Within the ’80s corporations like Hallmark started launching extra Valentine’s Day associated commercials. In 1985, one industrial, which dubs Hallmark as “The Valentine’s Retailer” exhibits off all the playing cards and heart-shaped merchandise you should buy for your beloved of their areas.


As if Kisses weren’t romantic sufficient primarily based on their identify, Hershey’s enforced them as a Valentine’s Day staple with one slight design tweak. The corporate started packaging Kisses candies in pink and crimson foil particularly for Valentine’s Day.


As entrepreneurs continued to embrace new media, we noticed an inflow of high-quality and insanely high-budgeted commercials mark the vacation from the ’80s till now. Some of the iconic and fantastically shot commercials was a mini-romance drama, known as “Le Movie,” selling Chanel No. 5 fragrance.

Within the advert, a person falls in love and runs away with a starlet, performed by Nicole Kidman. Ultimately, she returns again to her lifetime of fame. As she walks down the crimson carpet, he notes all of the issues he’ll keep in mind about her, together with the odor of her Chanel No. 5 fragrance.


Valentine’s Day begins to go digital. On February 14, 2005, YouTube — which originated as an internet courting website — makes its debut. Co-founder Steve Chen nonetheless credit its invention because the brainchild of “three guys on Valentine’s Day that had nothing to do.”

Image of YouTube when it was a dating website
Picture Supply


Experience sharing firm Uber rolls out “Romance On Demand,” permitting customers to ship flowers on Valentine’s Day through the app. This initiative would proceed to progress, with on-demand skywriting turning into obtainable the next yr.

Uber's Valentine's Day "Romance on Demand" campaign
Picture Supply


NetBase, a social media analytics platform, releases a Valentine’s Day Sentiment Evaluation, measuring how individuals have interaction with and focus on the vacation on social media. In complete, it measured 9 million mentions of Valentine’s Day, with the overwhelming majority of them mentioning a selected model — Netflix. The highest hashtag was #happyvalentinesday.


Within the earlier years of the Google Doodle, Google used Valentine’s Day to unfold consciousness of a uncommon species. In 2017, a collection of Google Doodles proven within the days main as much as Valentine’s Day highlighted the tales of pangolins, the one mammal species with scales, as they offer one another Valentine’s Day items or serenade their mates. Here is one instance:

Google's Valentine's Day Doodle, released Feb. 12, 2017, features the Indian pangolin, a species native to India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan

Picture Supply

Whereas, at this level, Google did not must market themselves with Doodles, this exhibits an early instance of a model that used its platform to creatively market one other trigger on the vacation.

2018 to Current Day

Lately, Valentine’s Day advertising campaigns have gone fully digital, with a very sturdy presence on social media. With these new alternatives, smaller corporations that do not have Hallmark’s finances can simply unfold consciousness of their very own manufacturers in the course of the vacation. Here is one instance of an Instagram publish which highlighted a positive Italian restaurant forward of Valentine’s Day:

Whereas these actual canine’s mimicking Woman and the Tramp grabbed consideration, particularly from the animal lovers on Instagram, this publish’s caption encourages audiences to work together with the model.

What Entrepreneurs Can Be taught from Valentine’s Day Advertising

Like so many different holidays, Valentine’s Day has skilled a transition into popular culture that has formed the best way it is perceived, mentioned, and celebrated. Positive, it is usually accused of being nothing greater than a money-making advertising vacation. However subsequent time you hear somebody label Valentine’s Day as a “Hallmark vacation,” you may have a wealth of historic data to reply with.

From our hearts to yours, Completely happy Valentine’s Day. We’ll be maintaining a tally of its continued evolution. 

Editor’s Word: This weblog publish was initially revealed in February 2017 and has been up to date for comprehensiveness and freshness.

advertising plan

Supply hyperlink