As the most romantic day of the year, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Couples everywhere will be planning special treats and surprises for their significant other on 14th February, when we celebrate the life of a young priest called Valentine, who lived in the times of the Roman Empire.
In the UK alone, more than 25 million Valentine’s cards are sent, while in the United States, the figure is a massive one billion! Researchers estimate that enough chocolate hearts are given as gifts each Valentine’s Day to stretch from the town of Valentine in Arizona to the romantic city of Rome in Italy and back again.
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How did it start?
To discover the origins of Valentine’s Day, we must go back to the third century AD – a time when romance wasn’t on the cards for soldiers in the army of Roman Emperor Claudius II! In fact, the emperor had introduced a law to make it illegal for young men to marry.
He claimed single men were better soldiers, as they had nothing to lose and weren’t thinking of their wife and children back home. He actively persecuted the Christian church and all of its beliefs and was particularly vociferous when it came to being against marriage.
With a rather hard-hearted attitude, he said he didn’t want his soldiers worrying about what would happen to their dependents if they should die on the battlefield!
A young Christian priest named Valentine felt the law was unjust, going against the teachings of the church. He risked his own life by defying Claudius and performing secret wedding ceremonies – breaking the law in doing so. However, the emperor learned of his unlawful actions and Valentine was sent to prison.
While incarcerated, he befriended the jailer, Asterius, whose daughter was blind. Valentine prayed for her and in a miraculous act of healing, he restored her sight. The jailer was converted to Christianity as a result.
As he refused to denounce his religious beliefs, Valentine was subsequently sentenced to death by public execution on 14th February 270AD. Just before his death, he wrote a letter to Asterius and his daughter, expressing how much he liked them, bidding them farewell and signing it, “Your Valentine.”
Over the centuries, this simple act grew into the worldwide tradition of Valentine’s Day on 14th February, when an international celebration of love takes place. In England, the Valentine’s Day that we know today began to take shape in the 1700s.
Lovers started declaring their affection with gifts of flowers and candies, while early handmade cards became known a “Valentines”. St Valentine was declared the patron saint of lovers, with his remains resting in Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin.
Valentine’s Day gifts
Today, lovers aim to give the ultimate Valentine’s treat to their partner. Roses are a popular gift, with around 50 million roses sold on Valentine`s Day all over the world. Approximately 73% of people who buy flowers as a gift on Valentine’s Day are men.
Eight billion chocolate hearts are produced worldwide for Valentine’s Day and the occasion is second only to Christmas in terms of sending cards and gifts to a loved one. Research shows the average amount a man will spend on Valentine’s Day is £100.
Popular gifts for women today include a pampering package containing a selection of gifts, such as a small bottle of wine (or hot chocolate if she doesn’t drink alcohol), luxury chocolates, bath salts, a scented candle, a face mask and body lotions.
Other favourite gifts include nightwear, perfumes, something personal (such as a framed portrait that reminds you of your love and the place where you met) and jewellery. A romantic meal for two, often at a candlelit table, is another popular Valentine’s treat.
If you want to buy something really special, how about organising something to look forward to? As a romantic gesture, book a trip away, such as a long weekend break at a plush hotel. Finances permitting, you could book a break abroad to somewhere such as Paris or Venice, which are renowned for being romantic cities.
Another ultimate Valentine treat is a luxury spa day for two. Many spas offer “couples days” when you can enjoy relaxing treatments together. Plenty of venues have special Valentine’s packages in place and it’s worth booking now to ensure you enjoy the experience you prefer – packages include a hot stone massage with chocolate-dipped strawberries and a glass of Prosecco, towels, robe and slippers and full use of the leisure facilities.
A hot stone massage is one of the latest spa treatments that comprises a massage using smooth, flat, heated stones that are placed at key points on your body. Described as a healing and effective experience, the hot stones ease muscle stiffness, increase circulation and melt away stress and tension.
The relaxing back, neck and shoulder massage, with a facial and pedicure included, is always popular with the ladies.
There are several new spa treatments which you can work into your Valentine’s Day package. New treatments are being launched every week and it pays to shop around and see which ones are on offer near you.
Latest spa treatment
A new treatment called Thalgo Merveille Arctique came on to the market in 2018 and has grown in popularity. It’s a two-hour treatment combining soothing warmth and invigorating cold to promote relaxation.
Natural ingredients derived from the Arctic Ocean, such as Icelandic Lichen Oleate, are used during the session, which includes a warm hydro-massage bath and a body scrub using salt flakes and extract of Boreal algae. The solution is rich in glucuronic acid and calcium. The treatment is inspired by Scandinavian heat therapy.
According to research by Statista, spa days are growing in popularity, with the market size of the global wellness and spa industry earning an amazing $3.7 trillion dollars.
Don’t miss out this Valentine’s Day – show your loved one you care with a romantic spa day for two!
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