We all know that February is the month of love; it is the month in which cards, chocolates and expensive gifts for men and women are given as a celebration of Valentine's Day. But, who is Saint Valentine, and where did this tradition of giving your loved one gifts originate from?
Strangely enough, the history of Saint Valentine and the origins of Valentines day are shrouded in mystery. The Catholic Church recognised at least three Saint Valentine's, all of whom were martyred. One popular story about Saint Valentine is that he was a priest who served in Rome in the third century. During his term of service, Emperor Claudius II decreed that marriage should be outlawed for soldiers as he felt that single men would make better soldiers than those who were married with children. Valentine knew that this wasn't a just decree, and so defied it by continuing to perform marriages in secret. When the Emperor discovered what Valentine was doing, he ordered him to be put to death.
However, this is not the only story about Saint Valentine. Another story suggests that he was actually put to death for trying to help Christians escape Roman Prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. Once imprisoned, he apparently fell in love with the jailor's daughter - who used to visit him in jail. Before he was put to death, he wrote her a letter declaring his love for her, and signed it 'From Your Valentine.' This expression is still used today. Despite the confusion over exactly who Valentine is, all of the stories all concur that he was a romantic figure whom people feel some sympathy for. Thanks to this reputation, by the middle ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in Europe.
There also exists confusion about why Valentine's Day is in February. Many people believe that it coincides with the day that Saint Valentine died or was buried, while others claim that the Christian church placed this feast day in February due to the pagan festival of 'Lupercalia'. Lupercalia was a festival celebrated from the 13th to the 15th of February, that aimed to purify cities and avert evil spirits, to aid fertility and health. In one part of the festival, all of the single young ladies in the city had to put their names into a large urn. Single men would then pick a name out at random and they would be paired for a year, which often ended in marriage.

It is believed that February 14th was finally decided on as the day to celebrate love in the name of Saint Valentine, because it is the start of mating season for birds. Sending a Valentine greeting didn't really become popular until the middle ages, with the oldest known Valentine dating back to 1415. Charles, Duke of Orleans, was captured at the Battle of Agincourt and imprisoned at the Tower of London. During his time there, he sent his wife a poem that he had written especially for her. If you wish to view this poem for inspiration, it is on show at The British Library in London.
The custom of giving presents to show love and affection began in England in the 18th century. In 1900, people began sending printed cards instead of writing letters, because of improvements in printing techniques and a reduction in posting rates. More recently, the practice of exchanging Valentines cards has been extended to cover all manner of gifts. iWoodesign has some fabulous exclusive wooden gifts for men and women and these would be a perfect way to show your partner how much you love them.

For example, if the man in your life is into games and spending time with your family, how about a luxury backgammon set? Backgammon is a game for two people where the object is to move all of your checkers around the board and then bear them off. Its not only a great game to play with friends and family, but it is also made from iWoodesign’s exclusive woods and will look fabulous in your home. Another great Valentines gift is one of our stunning luxury photo cubes or frames, perhaps with a special picture of the pair of you in it. Or, if your partner has a collection of jewellery or watches, we have a wide range of luxury jewellery boxes or luxury watch boxes.
For more information on our expensive gifts for men and women, please email us on [email protected] or call on 0208 802 242