Valentine's Day

Copyright: Getty Images

St Valentine’s Day has absolutely nothing to do with St Valentine, who was an early Christian martyr. It is the great day of love, when lovers all over the world write to each other, give each other presents, and are especially loving to each other.

Millions of people look forward to it and plan for it, not least restaurant owners, champagne makers, florists, chocolate manufacturers and those in the greeting card industry.

People started sending Valentine cards – often called valentines – to their husbands, wives, fiancés and fiancées, girlfriends and boyfriends in Britain in the 19th century, and by the late 1840s the custom had crossed the Atlantic, where it soon became big business all over the USA. Greeting card makers reckon that every 14 February a billion valentines are sent worldwide. That’s 1,000,000,000! Only Christmas beats that. Lovers spend quite a lot of money on St Valentine’s Day, too, and men are said to spend twice as much as women.

An interesting thing is that valentines are sent anonymously. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, since we all know who has sent them to us. Or do we? If you receive a valentine, perhaps you should not call your boyfriend or girlfriend immediately to thank him or her. He or she may have forgotten St Valentine’s Day, but a rival may have remembered it!

Copyright: Getty Images


Write true statements to replace these false ones:

  1. St Valentine’s Day is celebrated to honour a Christian martyr.
  2. It is celebrated by people who own restaurants and make expensive goods.
  3. People started celebrating St Valentine’s Day at some time between 1900 and 1999.
  4. A billion valentines are sent every year in the USA.
  5. More valentines are sent than Christmas cards.
  6. Women spend more money than men on St Valentine’s Day.
  7. People always sign valentines.
  8. You ought to thank your boyfriend or girlfriend at once if you get a valentine.

Activities for the links below

1) First link: Read the story and comment on the ending and the relationships between the characters. Do you think it is well written?

2) What a day for such a terrible thing to happen! Go to the account of the St Valentine’s Day Massacre below, read it, and then answer these questions:

  1. How did “Bugs” Moran and Al Capone earn their livings?
  2. What did the police fail to understand when they arrived on the scene?
  3. Who were the two men in uniform seen by the witness?
  4. What was Capone’s strategy in his attempt to do away with Moran?
  5. Why was Frank Gusenberg important for the police, and how did he disappoint them?
  6. How did the murderers escape from the scene of the crime?
  7. Why was nobody ever arrested for the massacre?
  8. How did the authorities eventually manage to convict Capone?


'Valentine's Day' - story by Mark Hansen

The St Valentine's Day Massacre

Cappelen Damm

Sist oppdatert: 22.09.2009

© Cappelen Damm AS