THE origins of Valentine’s Day are a little murky.

It started, it is believed, as a pagan fertility ritual held in February but the pope of the time was having none of it.

Instead, he abolished the festival and proclaimed February 14 St Valentine’s Day and another feast day was added to the Catholic calendar of saints.

In the Middle Ages, Chaucer linked St Valentine with romantic love and the rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward a few hundred years and Valentine’s Day is known universally as the day when couples declare their love for one another.

Put more cynically, it is also the day when the price of red roses goes through the roof and the bosses of card firms rub their hands together with the glee at the expected revenue windfall.

But if you want to do something loving but don’t want to be dragged into commercialism, perhaps you could use your pound to help worthy causes.

The Essex Lottery is asking people to spend £1 on a ticket tomorrow.

In addition to the chance of winning a cash prize for your loved one, you can also have the satisfaction of knowing you are helping charities in their good work.

A number of charities benefit from the lottery including an animal hospital, a fund for retired police dogs and a group which helps the victims of domestic violence.

And when flowers fade and die, the money given to the Essex Lottery will continue to pay dividends. So, if you have a pound to spare, share the love and get your Valentine a lottery ticket.