• Wandeth Gonzo

The History Behind Valentine's Day

Updated: Oct 10

Valentine's Day

Valentine's day occurs every February 14th and across the U.S. and in other places all around the world Candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones all in the name of Saint Valentine. Let’s go over who this mysterious Saint is and where the tradition of valentine's day came from. So one legend says that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome and when Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine realizing the injustice of this decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.

When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he'd be put to death. But still, others insist that it was Saint Valentine of Terni, a bishop who was true to the namesake of the holiday and he too was beheaded by Claudius II outside Rome. Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed or attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured. Another legend depicts that Valentine was actually imprisoned and sent the first Valentine greeting himself after he fell in love with a young woman who visited him during his confinement. It’s also been stated that Valentine's day originated as a western Christian feast honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine.

All of the legends are quite murky however all stories emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic heroic and most importantly romantic figure. By the middle ages, perhaps thanks to his reputation, valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France. By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for all friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions, in a time when direct expressions of one's feelings was discouraged. So in America, we began exchanging handmade valentines. In the early 1700’s and according to the greeting card association an estimated 145 million valentine's day cards are sent out each year, making valentine's day the second largest card sending holiday of the year (approximately 85% of all valentine's day cards are bought by women). Valentine's day aka Saint Valentine's Day or the feast of Saint Valentine - and is recognized as a significant cultural, religious and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions all around the world.

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