Valentine’s Day in the United Kingdom (What do people do?)


People with romantic feelings for a particular person can send cards, gifts and text messages to that person on Valentine’s Day.

Popular gifts include chocolates and flowers. Many are sent anonymously in the United Kingdom.

Valentine's Day in the United Kingdom (What do people do?)

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What do people do?

Many people send Valentine’s Day cards, gifts or text messages to their partner or someone for whom they have romantic feelings. Cards and gifts are traditionally sent anonymously in the UK, even if they come from a partner or spouse.

Popular Valentine’s gifts include:
  • Chocolates and other types of sweets.
  • Red roses or bunches of flowers.
  • Champagne or other sparkling wines.
  • Lingerie or other clothes.
  • Gadgets or electronic accessories, including USB flash drives and masks for laptops, net books and mobile phones.
  • A surprise meal in a restaurant or a night in a hotel.
  • A short break in the UK or abroad.

Children, parents and other relatives send Valentine’s Day exchange cards in some families. Groups of friends can also send Valentine’s cards. However, these customs are less common in the United Kingdom than in other countries.

Many couples try to eat a special meal between them. They can do this in a restaurant, hotel room or at home. Some opt for food and drink with a romantic touch, such as oysters, chocolate fondue, strawberries and champagne. Others choose less formal dishes, but easy to prepare.

Valentine's Day in the United Kingdom (What do people do?)

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Public life

February 14 is not a holiday in the United Kingdom. Restaurants and hotels can be especially busy on Valentine’s Day and weekends close to this date. People traveling in the UK may find it useful to make reservations at restaurants and hotels in advance. Reservations for weddings at registration offices and at hotels and churches on February 14 may need to be made one year or more in advance.


Valentine’s Day has been celebrated in the United Kingdom for thousands of years. Probably comes from a festival of pagan fertility in pre-Roman times. There was a Roman festival called Lupercalia in mid-February to mark the beginning of spring. There was a variety of fertility and marriage rites associated with Lupercalia. As Christianity spread through the Roman Empire, including much of the United Kingdom, this festival became a day of remembrance for Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day became more and more commercial during the second half of the 20th century. This continues in the 21st century.


The symbols of Valentine’s Day include red or pink hearts, red roses, teddy bears with roses or hearts and couples kissing or hugging each other. These symbols are printed on cards, wrapping paper, underwear and clothing and are made of chocolate or other types of food.

Images or models of Cupid are also often displayed in the run up to Valentine’s Day in the United Kingdom. Cupid is usually represented as a small winged figure with bow and arrow. According to mythology, use your bow and arrow to strike romantic love in people’s hearts.

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