For starters, no one seems to agree to much about anything to do with Valentine’s Day other than it’s a nice time to send flowers, chocolates, and a card to someone you love. Historians, theologians, academics, believers, and heretics all have their own say about who was the Christian St. Valentines, what he did, and whether Valentine’s day even has anything to do with this St. Valentine.
Some want to say the holiday is based on an earlier pagan festival called Lupercali that had something to do with a fertility holiday. It is also possible that the entire idea of Valentine’s Day was made up by bored person who wanted to create a holiday.
This being said, there is documented evidence in the United States going back to the 1500s that people were sending Valentine’s cards. The U.S Greetings Card Association estimates that today roughly 1 billion card are sent worldwide. Now this is one market I would like to have a share of!
So what does a Jew do on Valentine’s Day?
From Jewish perspective, Valentine’s Day, like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is nonsense. Because we don’t need a special day for any of this. If on February first you decide you should send a friend a card to say I love you, or you want to buy your mother flowers, a Jewish person does not need to wait until a specific day.
But what if you absolutely want to send someone flowers, chocolates or a card on Valentines day specifically?
There are a few issues with this that are raised by the Rama in the Shulchan Oruch (Code of Jewish Law) based on the Rama’s criteria as to what constitutes a secular holiday which a Jew may not follow. It would seem because of the vagueness of Valentine’s day and the way in which it is observed it does not constitute a violation of the law according to some Rabbis. However, it is not in the spirit of the law to practice such a thing.
My advice has always been: send chocolates, flowers, and/or a card the day before Valentine’s Day saying; “I wanted you to know I love you so much that I could not wait an extra day.”