Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day? Who was St Valentine? Here is everything you need to know

The origin of Valentine’s Day dates back centuries but back then it wasn’t to celebrate romance between couples the way it is today.

Valentine’s Day, which is also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated every year on February 14.

Approximately more than 250 million roses are sold annually on this day all over the world, while according to Hallmark, 145 million cards are sold every year worldwide and 25 million are sold in the UK alone.

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What is the history behind Valentine’s Day?

Here is everything you need to know about the history of Valentine's Day. (Pic credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

It originated as a Christian feast day honouring an early Christian martyr called Saint Valentine who was killed on February 14, 269 AD.

He was a priest and bishop in Rome and was added to the calendar of saints by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD.

St Valentine was allegedly sent to prison by Roman emperor, Claudius II, for his betrayal and refusal to obey his orders to stop performing Christian marriages.

He was said to be guilty of helping persecuted Christians and as well as this, Claudius ruled against Christianity as he did not want the public to worship anyone but him.

Saint Valentine became close friends with the emperor, but when he attempted to convert him to Christianity, Claudius condemned him to death.

According to folklore, Saint Valentine wrote letters to Claudius’ daughter and miraculously cured her blindness.

Before he was killed, Valentine wrote his last letter to the emperor’s daughter and signed it ‘from your valentine’.

He was beaten by stones and clubs before he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate in Rome and was buried at a Christian cemetery on the Via Flaminia.

Saint Valentine is not thought to have had any intimate relationship with Claudius’ daughter.

In the later middle ages between 1000 to 1250 AD, Saint Valentine became an iconic figure for love and romance.

But in 1969, the saint’s name was removed from the General Roman Calendar as there was little evidence of his backstory and many presume the story has been changed over time by other versions. However, he is still considered a saint by the Catholic church.

Saint Valentine’s flower-crowned skull is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, while other remains of his body are found at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland.

The alleged final letter he sent to the daughter of the emperor signed ‘from your valentine’ sparked the tradition of sending and receiving anonymous cards, letters and poems from admirers.