February 11, 2014

The History of Valentine's Day


Each and every year, people celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14. Valentine’s Day is a special day to share and show affection for others by sending flowers, chocolates, cards or homemade gifts. The heart has always been used to represent love during Valentine’s Day, the same way people use chocolate as a symbol of romance.

This special day is not all about candy, expensive dinners and roses. Valentine’s Day has a historical background just like any other special day. Contrary to what many people believe, greeting cards companies did not create Valentine’s Day. Actually, this special day was a church-sanctioned holiday. 

According to history.com, the origin of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery and is somewhat unclear. Over the years, the history of Valentine’s Day has been documented well. However, it is not clear which saint or saints the special day is named after. 

How did Valentine's Day start?

Valentine's Day celebrations are believed to be very old and trace their origins in ancient Roman festivals. In ancient Rome, the middle of February was celebrated as Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a pagan fertility festival that was celebrated on 13th, 14th and 15th February. 

During those days in Rome, the middle of February marked the start of springtime. Valentine's Day was celebrated in a very different way compared to modern days. It is believed that young men picked names of girls from a box. The young men would then become partners with the girls, for the duration of the festival. It is thought that the young men would use whips made from dog or goat skin to hit the girls’ backsides. The aim of this activity was to improve the fertility of the girls.

Soon after, the church turned this pagan festival into a Christian holiday. The holiday was set aside to remember and celebrate St Valentine’s. Gradually, people started using St Valentine's name to express their affection to their friends or families.

Valentine's Day became increasingly popular between the 17th and 18th centuries. However, increased communication in this era has made the day to be very popular among people of all ages.

The History of Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day gets its name from a well-known saint. However, there are several legends that explain who the saint was. According to one popular legend, St Valentine lived in the third century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II asked all the men to join his army but they were reluctant. As result, the emperor banned marriage since he believed that married men were poor soldiers. 

St Valentine felt that the emperor was being unfair to men and their families. As a result, the saint broke the regulations and arranged secret marriages for those who were willing to risk. However, it was not long before Claudius found out and decided to imprison Valentine for disrespecting him. The saint was later sentenced to death for breaking the rules. While in prison, it is said that St Valentine fell in love with a certain young girl. The young girl happened to be the jailor’s daughter and she used to visit St Valentine in prison. Before his death on February 14, St Valentine sent a love letter to the jailor’s daughter and signed it “From Your Valentine”. This expression is still used these days by lovers.

Fun Facts about Valentine's Day

  • The Roman goddess of love, Venus, loved red roses. The bud on rose flowers is a symbol of strong romantic feelings
  • Men buy the largest share of chocolates or candy and flowers sent on Valentine's Day
  • On Valentine's Day 1876, Alexander Bell applied for a patent for the telephone
  • In some nations around the world, a man may send a piece of cloth to a lady as a gift. If the lady accepts the gift, then it is assumed that she has accepted to marry the man.
  • The first Valentine’s card by Hallmark was produced in 1913. Currently, Hallmark produces over 1,330 varieties of Valentine’s cards
  • Every year, Americans will spend over 3.6 million on their loved ones for Valentine's Day
  • Valentine's Day and Mother's Day are the two biggest days where mothers get flowers.
  • Richard Cadbury introduced the first box of Valentine’s chocolate in the late 1860s
  • Each year, the City of Verona receives over 1,000 Valentine’s letters addressed to Juliet. The City of Verona was the home of Romeo and Juliet
  • Over 50 million rose flowers are sent to loved ones on Valentine’s Day
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