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Valentine's Day , also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. Originating as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus, Valentine's Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world , although it is not a public holiday in any country . Martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14 are presented in martyrologies, including a written account of Saint Valentine of Rome imprisonment for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire . According to legend , during his imprisonment Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge , and before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell. The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England , it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers , offering confectionery , and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart -shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid . Since the 19th century , handwritten valentines have given way to mass -produced greeting cards. In Europe , Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart ", as well as to children , in order to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine's Malady). Saint Valentine's Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church.