Valentine’s Day South Africa

A celebration of love, lust and Lindt, or is it just another Hallmark holiday?


Each year on Valentine’s Day (14 February), hordes of star-crossed young’uns and wedded veterans celebrate their love by rushing off to the shops to buy the biggest bunches of flowers, the most delectable-looking boxes of chocolates and (on occasion) the slinkiest lingerie.

But what’s the reasoning behind all this madness? Does Valentine’s Day claim roots entrenched deep in some lost romantic tale or is the holiday simply the brainchild of one particularly ambitious greeting card company? 

History of Valentine’s Day

As it turns out, the historic origins of this pseudo-holiday remain largely mysterious, with attribution rather shakily granted to an ancient celebration and a Roman Catholic saint.

As the story goes, Valentine’s Day’s beginnings are believed to be linked to the pagan fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, an age-old tradition comprising of animal sacrifices and a sacrificial feast. The occasion, which took place on the ides of February (15 February), encouraged the devout to cut thongs from the skins of the animals and run through the town striking the people in the crowds. It is said that women and young girls lined up to accept their lashes, as they guaranteed fertility and eased child birth pains.

With the advent and subsequent growth of Christianity, public performances of pagan rites were outlawed, thus leading to the festival’s decline in popularity and, what many believe, was a Christian effort to undermine the annual highlight.

Enter the story of Saint Valentine. Aside from his name, the date of his execution (14 February) and the location of his execution(Via Flaminia - a popular road in ancient Rome), little else is known about this wonder except that he inspired one of the most popular holidays of present-day.

Some legends claim that Valentine became a martyr thanks to his defiance of the Emperor Claudius II’s decree that forbid young army-worthy men from marrying. Others claim that the saint was immortalized for his attempts to save young souls from the harsh Roman prisons; in fact, some sources claim that his love letter written to the jailer’s daughter – it was signed ‘From Your Valentine’ – is the most genuine point of the holiday’s origin.

Though, in all honesty, most people attribute Valentine Day’s existence to capitalism, chocolatiers and card companies (it is said that a whopping 150 million cards are exchanged over Valentine’s Day every year).

Valentine’s Day in Cape Town

All in all, whether you love or loathe it, suggestions concerning what to do and where to woo your amour on Valentine’s Day in Cape Town are always welcome. So, without further ado:

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by Meagan Hamman
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Cape Town Events Calendar
February 2013
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Open Book festivalOpen Book Festival

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Marc LotteringMarc Lottering Comedy Show in Cape Town

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Cape Town Heritage Music FestivalCape Town Heritage Music Festival

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Jeremy Olivier Simon's Town Music FestivalSimon’s Town Music Festival

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Design and Making: The Story of FoodDesign and Making Exhibition at the ...

Discover how the evolution of food sheds light on the history and ...

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Latitude 33 Fashion Boutique Cape TownLatitude 33’s Winter Clothing Sale

Clearance! Score edgy Aussie-made clothes for men and women at up to 50% less ...

SANParks Tankwa NP FlowersYour Guide to Viewing the Spring ...

Don’t miss the chance to get up close and personal with South Africa’s ...

Craft beer from The Taproom Salt RiverSaturday Brunch at The Taproom

Kick back and refuel at Devil’s Peak Brewing Company’s chic eatery after a ...

Labels4Less Factory Shop Cape TownDiesel Jeans & Clothing Sale

Get an extra R50 off already marked-down designer denim, bags, belts, tops and ...

Cape Town Marathon RondeboschCape Town Marathon

Lace up your running shoes for a fast-paced flat race through the Cape’s ...

Open Book festivalOpen Book Festival

Indulge your love of all things literary with a comic book fest, poetry events ...

seal snorkeling diver and seals 2Seal Snorkelling Sunday Special with ...

Get free use of a GoPro Hero 2 underwater camera when you book this incredible ...

Earthdance Cape TownEarthdance Cape Town

This epic global get-down kick-starts the Mother City’s outdoor party season ...

artscape photo outside lightsArtscape Heritage Festival

Celebrate South Africa’s rich diversity and reflect on its chequered past ...

Jeremy Olivier Simon's Town Music FestivalSimon’s Town Music Festival

Get your groove on to jazz, blues, classical music and more at this brand new ...

Cape Town Creative WeekCreative Week Cape Town

The streets of the Mother City come to life this September to celebrate ...

Barnyard Theatre (Willowbridge) Born to be wildBarnyard Theatre's Born To Be Wild ...

Rock the night away to six decades of anthems at this Durbanville dinner ...

Darling Wildflower Show West CoastDarling Wildflower Show

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Everything you need to know about the Oscars of the brand communications world, ...

Old V&A Waterfront Grain Silo for Zeitz MOCCAZanele Muholi & Friends Photography ...

Explore the concept of ‘looking back’ at the V&A Waterfront’s new ...

Rocky Horror Picture Show FugardRocky Horror Show at the Fugard Theatre

The timeless musical returns to Cape Town to give fans another round of racy ...

Battlefield Live Corporate LogoTeam Building with Battlefield Live SA

Corporates become commandos in this adrenaline-inducing, morale-boosting laser ...

Design and Making: The Story of FoodDesign and Making Exhibition at the ...

Discover how the evolution of food sheds light on the history and ...

Camissa Gospel Tour 4Sunday Gospel Experience with Camissa

Embark on a spiritual Sunday journey through one of the Mother City’s most ...

Leopards Leap Rotisserie LunchRotisserie Lunch at Leopard’s Leap ...

Snack on succulent skewered meats and seasonal salads at this hip, young ...

Beerhouse roast special 2Rock and Roast Sundays at Beerhouse

Pair a pint or two with traditional trimmings and some quality acoustic tunes ...

Maboneng Township Arts Langa TagThe Langa TAG Township Arts Gallery Tour

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Colosseum HotelSunday Lunch Buffet at CinCin ...

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Sample a sterling selection of vintages at this acclaimed Winelands destination

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