History of Valentine´s day marketing

  • Have you ever wondered how Valentine´s day started to celebrate the way we do it nowadays? Discover the history of Valentine´s day marketing.

  • Today we are all familiar with Valentine`s day. Despite being a predominantly Anglo-Saxon celebration it has spread all over the world years ago. And in particular in Spain shops celebrate it intensely.
    But have you ever wondered when we started to celebrate Valentine's day as we do it today? 

    It is clear that Valentine has not arisen from nothing: behind this celebration and its characteristic elements - hearts, greeting cards, bouquets of flowers, chocolates and candies -there is a history that we are going to share with you today.
  • Origins of de Saint Valentin

  • To find the origins of Valentine's day, we have to travel to the distant Roman Empire. At that time, there is evidence of the celebration of a pagan feast called the Lupercalia on 15 February. 
  • It was a pretty wild party, which had animal sacrifices and in which men beat and scourged women with whips as part of a bizarre ritual of fertility. 

    Apparently, among other things there was a sort of lottery of couples, something that remotely resembles the current Valentine's day loving dynamics

    The Romans were also the creators of the figure of Cupid, a mythological figure represented by a cherub with a bow and arrows, which, in turn, had already been inspired by the ancient Greek mythological figure of Eros

    It is well known that in the Roman Empire Christians initially did not have very good acceptance. Among many others, Valentine was executed in Rome. According to the legend, on the night before his execution he wrote a farewell letter to the jailer´s daughter – who he became a friend of -signing it "from your Valentine"

    It is believed that 200 years after the celebration of the Lupercalia, when Christianity had already become the official religion of the Roman Empire, the Pope became this pagan festival into the official celebration of Valentine's day. He also changed it to February 14 date that has remained until today. 

    It seems that, at some point during these centuries, the Catholic holiday of Saint Valentine merged with the pagan imagery of Cupid in a combo that has survived to this day. 
  • How did Valentine´s day become love celebration?

  • It seems it was the poets, as usual. 

    The thing is that between the 14th and 16th centuries emerged in England two very important literary figures, who helped with their poems Valentine's day become synonymous with romantic love  Those figures were Chaucer and Shakespeare
  • Both wrote poems comparing Valentine's day with a kind of rose of winter, a time in which summer seems closer thanks to the love that warms the heart

    In the case of Shakespeare, even, the feast of St Valentine's day - and all that implies - are already perfectly reflected in his extremely well-known play "Hamlet"

    Already at that time in England friends and lovers gifted personalized greeting cards and gifts on Valentine's day. 
  • How were his characteristic elements associated to Saint Valentine?

  • At the beginning of the 18th century, Carlos II of Sweden was the first courtier to communicate with flowers, giving a different message to each species. 

    This tradition of floral language that recently premiered seems to be responsible for assigning the meaning of romantic love to the red rose, which is used to express love on Valentine´s day since then.  

    At the beginning of the 19th century, when greeting cards had already being used for years in England, appeared the first boxes of chocolates in heart shape. Cadbury company was responsible for its launch and popularity. 
  • And in the middle of the 19th century, candies and sweets with messages were presented. These elements were very popular since then as St Valentine's day paraphernalia, but they have not been preserved in other countries. At the beginning of the 20th century these treats acquired heart shape
  • How did Valentine´s day arrive in USA?

  • In the 17th century the first settlements of English colonies occurred in what later became United States. And it is believed that it was in the 18th century when the import of the Saint Valentine´s tradition to the American continent took place. 

    This tradition was already very popular in England, but it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that tradition really settled in United States. 

    Esther Howland, an American woman, fell in love with Valentine´s greetings since the day she received one. In the middle of the 19th century she decided to make them in the United States taking advantage of the infrastructure of his father´s the stationery company, since it was very expensive to import them from England. 
  • Between 1870 and 1880, Esther Howland created an authentic Empire with the production of greetings and Valentine-related various accessories

    Finally, in 1880, she sold her company to George C. Whitney Company, which in the following years came to acquire up to a total of 10 competitors, taking almost the entire market. 
  • Establishment of Saint Valentine in U.S. industry

  • From the 20th century, the thing began to grow and become professional immensely. 

    In 1894, Hershey Chocolate Company was founded in North America, which meant the democratization of Valentine chocolates, which until then were considered to be a European imported luxury good

    In 1906 American Greetings company was founded, which was to become one of the main competitors of Whitney Company; and in 1910 the extremely well-known company of greetings and cards Hallmark was born. It produced its first Valentine card in1913.
  • If it was not enough, that same year Florist'sTelegraph Delivery (FTD) was born, allowing sending flowers to further destinations, being Valentine's day one of its strongest seasons. 

    It is in the second half of the 20th century when the idea of giving valuable gifts to express a feeling of love on Valentine's day is spread. Thus, for example, in the 50s the diamonds company De Beers  popularized the idea of giving diamonds and jewelry as a sign of love. 
  • Saint Valentine today

  • The current celebration of Valentine's day is the accumulation of all these historical facts become an authentic culture of romantic love

    And as you can see, in most large milestones in this history a company has played an important role. It has managed to carry out its marketing

    Perhaps the big difference today with regard to former times is the digitization of marketing campaigns and the possibility of monitoring the "feeling of love" related to the day, notably through the control of hashtags and the use of Big Data

    Whatever it is, now you have the history of Valentine's day marketing clear. As you can see, getting to this celebration has not been a one day history.
  • What about you, did yu know the history of Saint Valentine´s day? What do you think about it? Do you find it amazing? Which insights did you take? Let us know in the comments section.

  • Learn more about Saint Valentine´s marketing here:  

    • 5 real facts about Saint Valentine´s Take advantage of them to sell more!
    • 5 great marketing actions for Saint Valentine´s

    Images | You can access the sources by clicking on each picture.
    Head photo | Fotolia.

Laia Ordoñez

Laia Ordóñez is a copywriting & eCommerce content marketing expert. She is Content & Marketing Manager at DueHome, a copywriting & content independent advisor, and Oleoshop's blog's editor-in-chief.

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