A BRIEF HISTORY OF VALENTINE'S DAY

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Read our fascinating history of Valentine's Day.

Discover why this festival is older than you might think.

The origins of Valentine’s Day

The origins of Valentine’s Day are believed to lie in the Roman festival of Lupercalia. This was held in February and it’s highly likely that ancient fertility rites had been held to celebrate the end of winter and mark the coming of spring for millennia. Lupercalia was a time of abundance and excess and it’s thought a certain amount of matchmaking occurred during this time. With the advent of Christianity, the celebration of Lupercalia was eventually banned as a pagan festival by Pope Gelasius. He declared the 14th February to be St Valentine’s Day in 496 AD, although it is unclear which Valentine he intended the feast day to honour – there are several conflicting accounts. The one that is perhaps best-known tells the story of a young soldier Valentine who was imprisoned for marrying young soldiers who were supposed to remain single. He fell in love with the prison warden’s daughter and wrote to her, signing it ‘Your Valentine’ shortly before he was executed – the first Valentine’s card!

When was Valentine’s Day first celebrated?

Valentine’s Day began to be associated as a time for lovers in the Middle Ages. Chaucer made the first written reference to it in his 1382 courtly poem ‘The Parliament of Fowls’ – describing Valentine’s Day as the time when each bird came to ‘choose his mate’. The tradition of Valentine’s Day being a special day to celebrate romantic love proved to have staying power as a few hundred years later, Shakespeare referred to Valentine’s day in several works, including Hamlet. By the late 18th century, a tradition had developed of sending cards to your beloved at this time of year – a tradition that rapidly grew in Victorian times on both sides of the Atlantic. The popularity of the language of flowers in the nineteenth century saw strong associations with red roses – which represented love and desire. Heart-shaped chocolate and sweets became popular Valentine’s gifts in the early years of the twentieth century.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at The Arch

To help you celebrate Valentine’s Day in style this year, we have put together a truly sumptuous Valentine’s package with a luxury suite and an exclusive Valentine’s dinner. The menu includes a selection of delicious dishes such as King prawn and Dorset crab ravioli, shellfish bisque and samphire; or Lamb Wellington, gratin dauphinoise, purple sprouting broccoli and baby carrots. Each diner will be served a glass of Taittinger Brut Champagne and a single long stemmed red rose. Guests can enjoy a truly romantic evening in the comfort of their own private curtained booth. The Arch London is the ultimate setting for a Valentine’s dinner boasting an intimate ambience, softly lit interiors and quietly glamorous decor.

Also included are additional romantic treats such as champagne, twelve long stem red roses and a tempting afternoon tea menu. Linger in bed with a delicious English breakfast and a complimentary 2 pm check-out.

Click on the link below to book our exclusive Valentine’s Day package.

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t: +44 (0)207 724 4700 info@thearchlondon.com

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