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
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GFWS logo good food and wine showThe Cape Town Good Food and Wine Show

Catch the big guns of the culinary world at this year’s beloved expo

Manor House at Saxenburg Wine Farm StellenboschWine Tasting at the Saxenburg Estate

Savour one of South Africa’s finest Shirazes alongside other outstanding reds ...

Underground Frequencies at The Assembly Assembly Presents: Underground ...

See some of Cape Town’s emerging musical acts bring the drum and bass beats ...

Matt Manning One Ingredient Pop-up Dinner and Cooking ClassOne Ingredient - Interactive dining ...

Learn how to prepare gourmet dishes while tucking into a four-course food and ...

Barnyard Theatre tribute ABBA Bee Gees Queen 01Barnyard Theatre’s Tribute to ABBA, ...

Celebrate the decades of disco, pop and great tunes

Cabaret at The Fugard Theatre Cabaret Musical at The Fugard Theatre

One of Broadway’s most popular productions comes to Cape Town

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Treat your little one to the ultimate military-style birthday bash and save R500

HQ DJ ReneFriday Night DJ and Dancing at HQ ...

#AfterDark with DJ Rene: start the weekend with a steak dinner, stylish ...

Fire and Ice Pool Shot Cape TownFriday Night DJ Sessions at Protea ...

Welcome the weekend with a free and funky party at the Mother City’s ...

Super Cool Beer Tour Bottles at Devil's PeakFree Beer Friday Special with Super ...

Embark on a fun Friday brewery excursion and get two lagers on the house

Dinner Club at Borage Bistro Cape TownFriday Dinner at Borage Bistro

Ease into the weekend with a superb supper at this urban-chic CBD eatery

Park Inn Newlands Happy Hour SpecialSlide On By Happy Hour Special at the ...

Glide in to this slick Southern Suburbs hotel for 2-for-1 drinks and music ...

Wine Flies Forgotten Route TourThe Forgotten Route Train Tour to ...

Take the road less travelled on a two-day adventure to the Klein Karoo

John at the Artscape TheatreJohn Play at the Artscape

Explore the hidden world of sex workers through the eyes of a man seeking his ...

Dancelines Metronome Ballet and Contemporary DanceDancelines Studio Presents Metronome ...

Delight in the beauty of all types of dance celebrating musical diversity and ...

The Pervert Laura Play at the FugardThe Pervert Laura at the Fugard Theatre

A brilliant character study of a woman who starts to unravel as her dark past ...

LifeArt with Angala BoutiqueAn Art Weekend Away at Angala Boutique ...

Let your creative juices flow with an arty stay in the gorgeous Franschhoek ...

African Arts Campus Africa MonthAfrica Month Lecture Series with the ...

Join the African Arts Campus for a series of enlightening talks on politics, ...

St Petersburg Ballet at the ArtscapeSwan Lake Ballet at the Artscape Theatre

Don’t miss the world-class St Petersburg Ballet Theatre’s rendition of ...

Booom! Baby ExhibitionBooom! Baby Art Exhibition at the ...

Grab your very own limited edition print from a renowned artist and help HOLAH ...

Belmond Mount Nelson HotelThe Summer of 1946 by Alexander McCall ...

Drink the stars and watch Alexander McCall Smith’s out-of-this-world play at ...

Black Koki Worldart GalleryWorldart Gallery Exhibition: Black Koki ...

Laugh now, cry later is a departure from the artist’s usual detailed ...

Vibe at the Hout Bay Harbour Market in Cape TownFriday Night at The Bay Harbour Market

Ring in the weekend with live music, craft beer, hearty fare and happy shopping ...

Food and wine tasting at La MotteFood and Wine Pairing at La Motte

Discover a match made in the divine tasting room of this Franschhoek estate

Marcel's Frozen Yoghurt BlizzardHow Awesome Would It Be If this Cape ...

We’ve reimagined some of the Mother City’s hotspots as cool and quirky ...

Diesel women's dresses sale from Labels4Less shopDiesel Jeans & Clothing Sale

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

Dinner at Dish Restaurant Inn on the SquareBraai Lunch Special at Inn on the ...

Friday is braai day at this Cape Town accommodation’s laidback eatery

Glenelly 1Meat and Cheese Platters at Glenelly ...

A Stellenbosch wine tasting with true French finesse

Sushi Making Classes Towers RestaurantSushi Making Classes at African Pride ...

Learn how to make sashimi, nigiri, maki and more with a lesson from an ...

GFWS logo good food and wine showThe Cape Town Good Food and Wine Show

Catch the big guns of the culinary world at this year’s beloved expo

YOH Pirates at The Assembly Assembly Presents: YOH! Pirates Dress ...

Saturday turns into a rum lovin’ costume shindig at this Harrington Street ...

Brumbies VS Stormers NewlandsDHL Stormers VS Melbourne Rebels Super ...

Cape Town’s Stormers go head-to-head with the boys from Down Under in this ...

Matt Manning One Ingredient Pop-up Dinner and Cooking ClassOne Ingredient - Interactive dining ...

Learn how to prepare gourmet dishes while tucking into a four-course food and ...

Barnyard Theatre tribute ABBA Bee Gees Queen 01Barnyard Theatre’s Tribute to ABBA, ...

Celebrate the decades of disco, pop and great tunes

Cabaret at The Fugard Theatre Cabaret Musical at The Fugard Theatre

One of Broadway’s most popular productions comes to Cape Town

Haute Cabriere 1Haute Cabrière Wine Estate’s Cellar ...

Delve into a world of vino theatre every Saturday at this Franschhoek-based ...

John at the Artscape TheatreJohn Play at the Artscape

Explore the hidden world of sex workers through the eyes of a man seeking his ...

Dancelines Metronome Ballet and Contemporary DanceDancelines Studio Presents Metronome ...

Delight in the beauty of all types of dance celebrating musical diversity and ...

The Pervert Laura Play at the FugardThe Pervert Laura at the Fugard Theatre

A brilliant character study of a woman who starts to unravel as her dark past ...

LifeArt with Angala BoutiqueAn Art Weekend Away at Angala Boutique ...

Let your creative juices flow with an arty stay in the gorgeous Franschhoek ...

Hercules Dynamix Heavenly House Cocktail and Dance PartyHeavenly House Cocktail and Dance Party ...

Bounce to sick beats until the wee hours of the morning at this swanky affair

African Arts Campus Africa MonthAfrica Month Lecture Series with the ...

Join the African Arts Campus for a series of enlightening talks on politics, ...

St Petersburg Ballet at the ArtscapeSwan Lake Ballet at the Artscape Theatre

Don’t miss the world-class St Petersburg Ballet Theatre’s rendition of ...

Booom! Baby ExhibitionBooom! Baby Art Exhibition at the ...

Grab your very own limited edition print from a renowned artist and help HOLAH ...

Belmond Mount Nelson HotelThe Summer of 1946 by Alexander McCall ...

Drink the stars and watch Alexander McCall Smith’s out-of-this-world play at ...

Black Koki Worldart GalleryWorldart Gallery Exhibition: Black Koki ...

Laugh now, cry later is a departure from the artist’s usual detailed ...

Craft beer from The Taproom Salt RiverSaturday Breakfast at The Taproom

Make Saturday mid-morning memorable with a moreish bite and a brewery tour at ...

Hazendal new 7Saturday Picnics at Hermitage Restaurant

Slow down and join the ants for a leisurely lunch on the grounds of ...

Truffle Halal Restaurant Burger Special Cape TownBurger and Milkshake Special at Truffle ...

Visit this upmarket halaal bistro on any Saturday for a trio of sliders and a ...

The Palms Market in WoodstockMarket at The Palms in Woodstock

Bringing country-style food to city tables every Saturday in Cape Town

Lounge furniture from Eco Furniture Decor online storeEco Furniture Design Store Sale

Buy beautifully crafted wooden dining room, bedroom and patio pieces for a ...

Spier Eight logoEight Restaurant Thrusts Its Doors Open ...

Spier Wine Farm’s farm-to-table eatery’s now serving supper three days a ...

river club greensGolfer’s Breakfast Special at the ...

Make the most of the weekend with a morning of good grub and elegant swings

Cheap Superdry Jeans from Labels4Less Factory StoreSuperdry Clothing Sale: T-shirts, Jeans ...

Save an extra R50 on already discounted designer denim, tops, bags and ...

Wild Fig Outdoor Restaurant Dining The Wild Fig Restaurant’s Alfresco ...

Enjoy long, lazy weekend lunches outdoors at this historic Cape Town eatery

Pow Boxing Break the Bank LaunchPOW Boxing Break the Bank Launch in ...

Watch some of the country’s greats go head-to-head at this inaugural fighting ...

Get Outside Urban Trail Runs Get Outside Sunday Urban Trail Run in ...

Get fit and grab a cuppa during this staple fun run through the heart of the ...

Harlem Globetrotters Tour to Cape TownThe Harlem Globetrotters Basketball ...

Dribble, duck, shoot and score with this slam-dunk event featuring the ...

African Soul Surfer Backpackers Room View MuizenbergAfrican Soul Surfer Backpackers in ...

The scoop on the surf-mad hostel that’s closer to the beach than any ...

Toya Delazy 10 q10 Questions For: Toya Delazy

As one of South Africa’s brightest stars, Toya DeLazy has been tearing up ...

The Drawing Room Cafe in Cape TownThe Drawing Room Café and Art Gallery ...

Nibble on eats while admiring striking works of art at this multipurpose ...

Cape Flats Smile Passion Gap Dental Modification... Passion Gaps?

The toothy truth behind the Cape Flats smile

Wine Flies Guided Wine Tours Cape TownWine Flies Cape Town Wine Tours

Wine flies when you’re having fun: Experience real wine with real people on ...