A Short History of Valentines Day

Every year, approximately one billion Valentine’s Day cards are bought, with 85% of them being purchased by women.

February 14th marks Valentine’s Day, a holiday celebrated in numerous countries worldwide, but how did this romantic day come to be?

If like many others, all you know is that it’s somehow linked to a mysterious Saint Valentine, there’s plenty more to uncover.

Take a look at the fascinating history of the most amorous day of the year!

Who was Saint Valentine?

Saint Valentine was a priest who conducted marriage ceremonies (among other services) in Rome in the third century.

At the time, the emperor was Claudius II, who believed that men would make better soldiers if they were single.

As a result, he prohibited young men from marrying, but Valentine disagreed with him and continued performing marriage ceremonies, allowing many young people across the country to wed.

When Claudius II discovered what was going on, he was outraged and had Valentine executed.

Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?

The reason behind celebrating Valentine’s Day in February is uncertain, but there are interesting theories.

The most popular theory is that this was the month Saint Valentine was martyred, although some believe it was celebrated in February to overshadow a pagan festival.

The Lupercalia festival involved priests, a sacred cave, and the sacrifice of goats and dogs, with the aim of making women more fertile the following year. Since Christians opposed this practice, it’s possible that they decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day in February too.

When did Valentine’s Day become official?

Two centuries after Valentine’s death, Pope Gelasius became the head of the Catholic Church and declared February 14th as Valentine’s Day.

By then, Christianity had eradicated the Lupercalia festival, and people could focus solely on the day of love during this month.

However, it wasn’t associated with love until later on.

During the Middle Ages, people believed that February 14th marked the start of the bird’s mating season. When this theory was added to the legends of Saint Valentine, it began to make sense that this day should be dedicated to celebrating love.

The Evolution of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day messages gained popularity after 1400, but they weren’t unheard of before then.

Legend has it that Saint Valentine was imprisoned and sent a message to his lover signed “From your Valentine.” While this may be highly romanticized, it could explain one of the most common phrases seen on Valentine’s Day cards today.

The British Library in London holds a manuscript of the first recorded Valentine’s message, written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415 while he was imprisoned. Although the origins of Saint Valentine’s message are uncertain, Charles’ story is undoubtedly true. Mass production of Valentine’s Day cards began in the mid-1800s in America, with cards adorned with lace, ribbons, and other decorative elements. Today, approximately one billion Valentine’s Day cards are purchased annually, with 85% of them being bought by women.

FAQ

What is the origin of Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day was originally a Roman holiday called Lupercalia, which was celebrated in mid-February. It was a fertility festival that involved sacrificing animals and whipping women with the hides of the animals, as it was believed to bring them good luck and fertility. The holiday was later Christianized and named after Saint Valentine, a martyr who was executed for performing marriages for Christian couples in secret. The holiday became associated with love and romance in the Middle Ages, and by the 18th century, it had become popular to exchange love notes and gifts on Valentine’s Day.

When did Valentine’s Day become popular in the United States?

Valentine’s Day became popular in the United States in the mid-19th century, when Esther Howland began selling the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in the country. The holiday gained even more popularity in the 20th century, with the rise of consumer culture and the commercialization of the holiday. Today, Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular holidays in the United States, with millions of people exchanging cards, chocolates, and flowers with their loved ones.

How is Valentine’s Day celebrated around the world?

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many different ways around the world. In Japan, it is traditional for women to give chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day, while men give gifts to women on White Day, which is celebrated on March 14th. In South Korea, there is a similar tradition of women giving chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day, but there is also a holiday called Black Day on April 14th, which is for single people to celebrate their independence by eating black noodles. In Brazil, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on June 12th, and it is traditional for couples to exchange gifts and go out for romantic dinners.

What are some alternative ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

While many people celebrate Valentine’s Day with traditional gifts like chocolates and flowers, there are many alternative ways to celebrate the holiday. Some people choose to celebrate with experiences, like booking a romantic weekend getaway or going out for a fancy dinner. Others choose to celebrate with acts of kindness, like volunteering at a local charity or donating to a cause they care about. Some couples choose to celebrate with a fun activity, like taking a cooking class or going on a hike. Ultimately, the best way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is to spend time with the people you love and show them how much you care.

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