Romantics across the country will be showering their loved ones with cards and gifts on Tuesday as the nation celebrates Valentine's Day.
This ancient tradition is believed to have originated from the Roman festival Lupercalia, held in the middle of February when springtime officially started.
It's thought that boys drew names of girls from a box and they'd be boyfriend and girlfriend during the festival...and sometimes even married.
Later the Church turned the festival into a Christian celebration, using it to remember St Valentine.
There are several stories about who Valentine was, but popular belief is he was a priest from Rome in the third century AD.
Emperor Claudius II had banned marriage because he thought loved-up married men made bad soldiers. Valentine thought this unfair and arranged marriages in secret.
Claudius discovered what Valentine was up to and sentenced him to death.
But Valentine fell in love with the jailer's daughter and, when he was taken to be killed on February 14, sent her a final love letter signed 'from your Valentine'
And that's how St Valentine's name started to be used by people to express their feelings of affection for others.
As with all good traditions and celebrations, Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse for themed activities in an Early Years setting.
- Cut out as many paper hearts as you have children and glue, or draw, a picture of an animal on each - but make sure you have two of each animal. Pass out the hearts to the children and ask them to act out the sound of the creature on their heart. When they find their Valentine's partner they sit down together.
- Write each of the children's names on a paper heart and place them on the floor. Ask the group to close their eyes and then remove one heart. Tell them to open their eyes and guess which name is missing. If that's too easy, take away two hearts at a time. You can also write numbers or use different coloured hearts as a variation.
- Turn a humble potato into the perfect artist's tool by cutting it in half and using a cookie cutter to make a heart imprint. Cut away some of the outside to reveal the shape. Wipe the potato heart stamp dry before the children dip it into paint to print on paper. The printed hearts can adorn cards, bunting, used to make pictures and much more.
'Love'ly booksTwo charming books to share with little ones this Valentine's Day are Love Monster and The Day It Rained Hearts.
In Rachel Bright's Love Monster we discover that, apparently, it's hard to fit in with the cute and fluffy residents of your town when you're a googly-eyed monster. Undeterred, Love Monster sets out to find that special someone and discovers love can find you when you least expect it.
Felicia Bond's The Day It Rained Hearts is a sweet story about the day it rains hearts and Cornelia Augusta catches them. She realises each is special in its own way and perfect for making Valentine's to send to her animal friends. This cute tale is also a great way to lead into, or round off, heart-inspired craft and activities.