Valentine's Day is a romantic observance celebrated in the UK and many other countries every February 14.
Is Valentine's Day a Public Holiday?
Valentine's Day is only an observance, so shops, businesses, and banks follow regular opening hours. Restaurants, hotels, cinemas and other romantic venues might be very busy. Be sure to book your table, hotel room, or tickets well in advance.
Valentine's Day in the UK
According to a 2017 study more than half (52%) of the UK population didn't plan to buy a gift for their loved ones for Valentine's Day. 48% didn't even plan on buying a card.
However, the study conducted for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) calculated that the people in the UK would spend almost half a billion pounds on Valentine's Day gifts, men spending about 40 pounds each, which is nearly twice as much as women. The study also predicted that the average spending on Valentine's Day would rise 12% compared to the year before.
Valentine's Cards and Dinners
Like Halloween, Valentine's Day is a celebration embraced by commerce and used heavily in marketing. Cupid, love hearts, red roses, lovebirds, and the color red is used to symbolize romantic love on stuffed toys, cards, chocolates, and other gifts. It is common for couples to eat a romantic meal together on this day, and restaurants are often booked out.
More than 25 million cards are sent for Valentine's Day each year. Some people also send Valentine's Day cards to friends and family to show their love and appreciation.
Regional Valentine's Celebrations
Nearly half of UK adults consider themselves to be romantic, and Valentine's Day is considered the day of romantic love, often celebrated with a candlelit meal or a romantic getaway.
The City of Love
Glasgow, Scotland calls itself the “City of Love,” as it is believed that the forearm of one of the two St Valentines is kept in the church of Blessed St John Duns Scotus. The relic is decorated with red roses. Special services dedicated to lovers and featuring prayers for those still seeking it are held in the church on Valentine's Day. The reliquary holding the forearm is a popular spot for men to propose to their girlfriends on Valentine's Day.
Gretna Green, the first Scottish village encountered when traveling from England to Glasgow, was famous for English couples to elope to as they could marry at 16 there according to Scottish law. It is still a popular place for marriages, especially on February 14.
Jack Valentine and St Dwynwen
In Norfolk, Valentine's Eve is celebrated by the mystical figure of Jack Valentine knocking on back doors and leaving gifts for kids and adults alike. Jack Valentine is also known as Old Father Valentine or Old Mother Valentine.
In Wales, St Dwynwen's Day on January 25 is celebrated instead of, or in addition to, Valentine's. St Dwynwen is the patron saint of Welsh lovers.
The English Origin of Valentine's
The modern origins of Valentine's Day come from England. The first real association of Valentine's Day with romantic love, or “love birds,” comes from Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem Parlement of Foules. Dating from 1382, it states: “For this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.” William Shakespeare's Hamlet (1600–1601) refers to both Saint Valentine's Day and the phrase “to be your Valentine,” showing that Valentine's Day was established in British culture by that time.