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[[File:Saint Valentine by Bassano.jpg|thumbnail|left|300px|Saint Valentine as
depcited by Bassano.]]
Saint Valentine's Day is widely celebrated in the Western world as a day of love and romantic relationships. While this tradition does go far back and has connections to early Christian traditions, there are also more complex links with pre-Christian holidays that were likely changed or modified into Saint Valentine's Day traditions.
[[File:Court of Love in Provence in the Fourteenth Century Manuscript of the National Library of Paris.png|thumbnail|left|Figure 2. Depiction of the Charter of the Court of Love that may have influenced Valentine's Day traditions. ]]
In Saxon England, young men or boys would often give women
of their affections small gifts that included gloves. The fact that Saint Valentine's Day is near spring and foreshadowed it could have made it more festive in association with love. In some regions, Saint Valentine's Day began to be associated with spring since it was often the time people began to rework in their fields in preparing for the planting season. However, these events did not associate the day directly with love. Although the Roman and other stories associated with Saint Valentine could have connected the day with love, other later traditions may have further added to this idea. Geoffrey Chaucer, the famous early English author, wrote that the time was associated with birds beginning to pair themselves. In effect, it was a time of pairing and matches and associations of this to humans may have begun around that time.<ref>For more on early Medieval traditions of Saint Valentine's Day, see: Diehl, D., & Donnelly, M. (2011). <i>Medieval celebrations: your guide to planning and hosting spectacular feasts, parties, weddings, and renaissance fairs</i> (2nd ed). Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books.</ref>
In 1400, Charles VI of France commissioned <i>Charter of the Court of Love </i>, which was a charter where on February 14th contests would be held related to love songs and poetry readings about love (Figure 2). While
the accuracy of the story of this are not certain, what we do know is by the 15th century people did begin to wish their beloved valentine greetings. The developments around this time made have made chivalrous acts between maidens and single men and Valentine's Day associated. The Duke of Orléans, who was captured in battle against the English, wished his wife a sweet valentine. In England, Valentine's Day also began to be associated with gifts of sweets for children. It was during the Medieval period that young people put the names of the person they wanted to marry on their sleeves, which has come to us in the expression of putting your heart on your sleeve. In the 15th century, cards may have begun to be created with notes of affection, although they did not become popular until much later. By 1600, Shakespear's Hamlet has Ophelia discuss her love for Hamlet in association with Valentine's Day.<ref>For more on late Medieval traditions and the growing popularity of Valentine's Day then, see: Skarmeas, N. J., & Venturi-Pickett, S. (1999). <i>The Story of Valentine’s Day</i>. Nashville, Tenn.: Candy Cane Press.</ref>
By the 17th
centuries, Valentine's day began to be popular among friends and lovers among different classes. At this point, people began to exchange tokens of affection and notes with each other expressing their feelings. Charles II of Sweden in the 18th century began to associate affection with flowers and it was possibly at this time that flowers were used with Valentine's Day. The single rose at this time may have come to symbolize romantic love.<ref>For more on Charles II of Sweden, see: Moore, K. (2011). <i>Roses Are Red ...: a Book for Lovers</i>. London, UK: Michael O’Mara.
Modern Valentine's Day has been strongly influenced by American traditions that first derived from the mid-19th century. Esther A. Howland in the 1840s began selling cards and gifts that contained real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures.
It was also this time that women began to be more strongly associated with Valentine's Day relative to men, where marketing began to focus more on them and today they constitute about 85% of Valentine's Day sales. It was around 1900 that Valentine cards were popularly produced throughout Europe and began to replace letters and notes that lovers would exchange. Valentine cards often contained secret compartments that the women of affection would have to find, which may have contained additional messages or gifts of affection. The British chocolate company of Cadbury began to create decorated boxes of chocolates for Valentine's Day in the 1860s and that has since made chocolates another association with Valentine's Day.<ref>For more on how modern Valentine's day traditions started, see: Lee, R. W. (1984). A history of valentines. Wellesley Hills, Mass.: Lee Publications.</ref>
In the modern world,
it is China and South Korean that have taken the mantel of spending the most on Valentine's Day. In other countries outside of the West, many of them had feasts or festivals associated with love. These customs have often been replaced or sometimes integrated along with Western Valentine's Day traditions such as sending chocolates and flowers to a beloved. For instance, in Wales, St. Dwynwen's Day was the day to celebrate lovers. This falls on January 25th. Aspects of this tradition are sometimes combined with February 14th in Wales or people simply celebrate the Welsh holiday with Western style Valentine's Day celebrations.<ref>For more on how Valentine's Day is celebrated around the world today, see: Williams, V. (2017). <i>Celebrating life customs around the world: from baby showers to funerals</i>. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO.</ref>
Valentine's Day is still an uncertain holiday in terms of its origins. Many stories exist around it and there might be some truth in each of the stories. The influence of pre-Christian traditions
are also possible , and likely given many ancient feasts existed that revolved around fertility and love. The modern date may have been a Christian way to syncretize these ideas with the Christian faith. Whatever the case might be, later developments such as flowers associated with love and chocolates as presents to a beloved developed more clearly in the modern era. By the 19th century, commercialization of Valentine's Day had already become evident in the United States with the development of cards and decorative products.