If you unwrap the 21st century packaging of cuddly, commercialised Valentine’s day, you'll find that, phwooah! it's a dark, bloody mess!
No one has pinpointed the exact origin of the holiday, but a good place to start is Ancient Rome with the annual feast of Lupercalia on 13th – 15th February. Drunk, naked Romans would whip women with the bloody hides of animals in a kinky fertility ritual that included a match-making lottery.
During the 3rd Century, the execution of two men named Valentine on 14th February led the Catholic church honouring the day with religious celebrations. In the 5th Century, Pope Gelasius I combined the two events to create a more wholesome celebration of fertility and love.
Later, Shakespeare romanticised the day in his works and it gained popularity throughout Europe. In 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City cashed in on card-giving traditions with the industrialised production of cards. February has not been the same since.