You are currently viewing Why We Associate Valentine’s Day with Love and Red
Vince Camuto slouchy suede boots, statement belt, DIY earrings, layering top, J. Peterman knit dress (all own) and tights c/o Hipstik

Did you ever wonder why we associate Valentine’s Day with love? Or why do we wear red on Valentine’s Day? Did you ever aks yourself the questions “Where does the custom to send Valentine cards come from? Is Valentine the saint of the lovers?” Read to find out more about the history of red and St. Valentine.


  1. Three St. Valentines Were Decaptivated
  2. What Is the Historic and Cultural Meaning of Red
    • Anger, Aggression, Danger, and Passion
    • Blood, Sin, Guilt, Sacrifice
    • Love, Sex, Blood, Sin, Guilt
  3. When Was the Start of Valentine’s Day Business?
  4. Commercialization of the Color of Love
  5. References


Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.


Three St. Valentines Were Decaptivated

When you research the history of St. Valentinus, you dig deep into the history of the Roman Catholic church, and the liturgical calendar. There had been three different saints with the name. None of their faiths was related to love stories in the sense of a Hollywood movie like Pretty Woman, Sabrina, When Harry met Sally, You’ve got mail or European 1950s love stories like Sissie (a movie about the Austrian Empress) or the 1937 Herbert Wilcox‘s movie about Queen Victoria meeting and marrying Prince Albert. On the contrary, at least two of the saints were beheaded for their religious believes and faiths, i.e., love to God. Ok, decaptivating causes a spill of blood. It’s a far stretch to see a connection.


What Is the Historic and Cultural Meaning of Red

Historically, red has always been an ambigious color in the Old World. It has symbolized anger, aggression, danger, passion, blood, sin, guilt, sacrifice, courage, and in some societal classes, the shade was also associated with love and sex. Still today, you want to look sexy and attractive on Valentine’s Day.

Terms that we use every day relate to these cultural associations. For instance, red-handed – referring to the blood on the hands of a murderer, but also for for a person caught while committing a crime. Another example is red-light district.

Have you ever wondered about the slight reddish light in the grocery store meat section? It serves to make the meat look fresh! Again, think of blood.


stylist in LRD with gray belt, tights, slouchy boots
Back view of red V-day look


over 50 years old fashion blogger in cherry midi dress
Outfit details: Vince Camuto slouchy suede boots, statement belt, DIY earrings, layering top, J. Peterman knit dress and tights c/o Hipstik



Anger, Aggression, Danger, and Passion

In ancient times, red was associated with the God of War, Mars (Romans) and Apollo (Greeks). Think of injuries, for instance! War is dangerous and aggressive and the soldiers have a passion to survive. Today Stop signs have that color. The devil is painted in this color.


Oil painting on canvas of Apollo and Aurora by Gerard de Lairesse Gift of Manuel E. and Ellen G. Rionda, 1943
Oil painting on canvas of Apollo and Aurora by Gerard de Lairesse (Dutch, 1641–1711). Date:1671. Credit Line: Gift of Manuel E. and Ellen G. Rionda, 1943. Down loaded from the Met Museum


In the middle ages, flying a red flag over a town indicated that the population would defend the city, no matter what. Flying a red flag on a warship served to convey the message to the enemy that there would be no mercy.


Blood, Sin, Guilt, Sacrifice

In the Roman Catholic church, popes and cardinals wore red as a reminder of the blood of Christ, Christian martyrs and saints on Palm Sunday (in anticipation of the Jesus’ death) and martyrs’ days. Here one could see a connection between the color and St. Valentinus as these men were Christian martyrs. Interestingly, Valentinus was often painted in a green robe (see painting below).


painting of Saints Credit Line: Bequest of James Clark McGuire 1930
Hand-colored woodcut of the Saints of Passau, Germany, Valentinus, Stephanus and Maximilanus (left to right) by Hans Burgkmair (German, 1473–1531). Date:1503–1505. Credit Line: Bequest of James Clark McGuire, 1930. Downloaded from: Met Museum.


Did you every think about the tradition to present the bed sheet of newly weds to the community in some cultures? Have you ever thought about what it meant for a newly wed woman (and her family) when her husband was too beer-doped? Or the pressure on the newly weds?


Love, Sex, Blood, Sin, Guilt

The Greek and Hebrew culture associates red with love. In Isaiah, it reads “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”

An early middle age French poem is about finding a red rose in a closed garden. In this poem, the rose stands for a woman (or love).

Recent scientific studies revealed that men rate women wearing red more attractive than when the same women wear blue. I am wondering whether this finding relates to giving the illusion of more weight. Sort of better chances of survival for potential offsprings?


sexy leopard print boots
Side view of cold climate Valentine’s Day outfit idea


fashion blogger with long curls, knitdress, tall boots
Back view of little red dress
woman in Valentine's Day outfit inspiration
J. Peterman knit dress, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, GNW tight, Manelo Blahnik leopard print boots, smoky quartz necklace, layering top



When Was the Start of Valentine’s Day Business?

The custom to send cards originated in the United Kingdom. In the 18th century, people in love sent each other handmade, paper cards with poems. In the 19th centrury, lace cards, cards with Cupid, hearts, and doves carrying little heart envelops, flowers, etc. became available for purchase.


historic Valentine's Day card Downloaded from the Getty Museum open program
I’m Your Valentine. Artist/Maker: Henry Pointer (British, 1822 – 1889) Culture: British. Date: about 1865 Medium: Albumen silver print. Downloaded from the Getty Museum open program


In 1847, Esther Howland (1828–1904) of Worcester, MA received one of these cards from a business friend of her father’s. Shortly thereafter, she ordered such mass-produced cards, and started selling them. Interestingly, green (which stands for hope in the European culture) was a typical color for the cards, among blue (sincerity, trust, wisdom, confidence, authority), and an orange (amusement, unconventional, extroversion, warmth, energy, activity, determination) looking shade.


Historic Valentin card by Esthere Howland Gift of Mrs. Richard Riddell, 1981
Esther Howland (American, 1828–1904) cameo-embossed lace paper chromolithographed die cut scraps, green glossy paper, blue ink, red ink Valentine card. Date: 1847–1870. Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Richard Riddell, 1981.


Commercialization Associate of Valentine’s Day with Love and Red

Today nearly every business pitches in to get a piece of the cake. Culturally, red is the color of love. It is aggressive enough to draw attention, and create an urge. Crimseon roses, ruby rings, Hershey kisses, strawberries in chocolate, restaurant special dinners, dances, you name it. I saw even a rack entirely devoted to the little red dress (LRD) at Value Village!



How Bloggers Wear Red

A while ago, I asked seven of my blogging friends to reveal their secrets on how redheads look stunning in red. In honor of V-day, some of my blogging friends and I demonstrate how bloggers wear the color of love.


February Stylish Monday hostesses


Don’t let the right outfit be a random thing. Wear the right look in every situation by looking up what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy the book now.


Nina of Sharing a Journey

Nina in a carmine mini dress and white plateau shoes with straw and leather bag

Andy of Pearls and Pantsuits

Andrea Schwartz in camo pants and ruby shoes and sweater

Hilda of Over the Hilda

blogger in wine coat, black pants, top and sandals, rose print scarfCindy of Cindy Scurry

Andy in kimono with white denim and T-shirt, ruby heels

Nancy of Nancy’s Fashion Style

Nancy Baten of Nancy's Fashion Style in pink skirt, sandals, black blazer with rose coral belt and top

Julie of Fashion Trends and Friends

Julie Augstyn in monochromatic pants with striped sweater plus booties look

Emma Peach of Style Splash

Emma of Style Splash in rainbow colored OOTD

Michele of Seechele Styles

Michelle Clark in cable knit top, denim and sneakers

Suzanne of Ask Suzanne Bell

Suzanne Bell in roast double-breasted blazer and black pants

Robin Rooms Revamped

Robin LaMonte in floral pants with leopard print scarf and pumps for Vday


Conclusions on Why We Associate Valentine’s Day with Love and Red

Red stands for passion which is related to love (including self-love for survival and love to God/s). Valentine became associated with love due to literature (poems, novels), but these works didn’t associate Valentine’s Day with love, but a woman. At the beginning of sending Valentine’s cards on Valentine’s day, red was not in the focus. Commercialization requires catching colors. Therefore, the cultural association of red with passion and love came in handy. After some generations, it becomes a mainstream to associate Valentine’s Day with love and red attire for dressing for Valentine’s Day.

Photos: Courtesy to these bloggers

Photos of me: G. Kramm



Elliot, A. J., & Niesta, D., 2008. Romantic red: Red enhances men’s attraction to women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

© 2013-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Nicole I always love your posts when you delve into history, traditions and hidden meanings. I love red and yes I think it gives a glow to my face.

  2. Thanks for the nice compliment on the post and photos. I just love doing this. For me there is nothing as interessing as the “why is that?”.

  3. Me too. We are such a diverse group and so each lady’s post is so unique and different despite we show the same photos. It’s so much fun. I hope our readers have as much fun as we have with putting this together.

  4. Mr.Rios

    As always, your wonderful research skills brought forth much to ruminate on this Valentine’s Day. Yes, fertility does reign supreme in ancient civilizations when it comes to the color red, but that was the directive of royalty and pauper alike back in the day, nowadays, the color is a wonderful reminder of feminine strength and empowerment. Nicole, thank you for making us think; it is just as fantastic a Valentine’s Day gift to your fans as much as that ‘glance-over-the-shoulder’ look in the red dress/ grey slouch boots third pic! You’re always awesome, and you look stunning just being awesome as well! Cheers!

  5. Fashion Trends And Friends


    That’s quit the history lesson on Valentine’s day as well as the tradition! Totally not what you’d expect especially the decapitations!

    Love your red paired with gray and leopard! I look forward to each month’s collaboration and seeing how each woman has interpreted the theme!

    Julie xo

  6. the red with grey is lovely! but it’s suede grey that i find absolutely luxe!
    xo eva

  7. voguefauxreal

    Thank you so much for the history “refresher” (much of which I did not know)! I’d never really thought about red brightening the complexion, but of course it does – bringing a rosy glow to our faces. Your red dress is beautiful and I love it with the gray tights and booties but it also looks amazing with the leopard boots (I think the second look with your hair down and the leopard boots definitely is a sexy look). And thank you so much for the linkup!