Valentine's Day

A bowl of candy conversation hearts


Candy, flowers, heart-shaped notes—what’s not to like about Valentine’s Day? This sweet celebration, which happens every year on February 14, is all about spreading the love.


St. Valentine


A young boy and girl


Valentine’s Day traditions have evolved a lot over the years. For example, in the Middle Ages—which lasted from the 5th to 15th centuries in Europe—people started exchanging handmade cards with love notes inside. Today billions of dollars are spent on Valentine’s Day cards and gifts each year around the world.


In a tradition that's also tied to the Middle Ages, South African women actually wear their hearts on their sleeves ... sort of. Girls pin the names of their crushes on their shirtsleeves, sometimes revealing themselves as secret admirers to their sweethearts.


No matter how you celebrate Valentine's Day, one thing's for sure: This is one totally aww-some holiday.


Handmade cards


Text by Rose Davidson, National Geographic Staff


Photo credits (top to bottom): Bhofack2, Dreamstime; Eric Vandeville, Gamma-Rapho, Getty Images; Rachel Frank, AGE Fotostock; KenTannenbaum, Getty Images



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Learn about Valentine's Day at Nat Geo Education.

Printable Valentines 

Give them to your friends.

Who gets Valentine's Day cards from you?