The most romantic day of the year, February 14, is Tuesday. The day is set aside to show love and affection to others, as well as being a booming time for florist, candy makers and card companies.
Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day traces its origins back to Lupercalia, a Roman Festival dedicated to fertility. The celebration was traditionally held on Feb. 15 and dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and the harvest.
Celebrations of the day faded with the growth of Christianity until it was revived by Pope Gelasius who declared Feb. 14 the feast for St. Valentine’s Day in 496 A.D.
Valentine’s Day was also mentioned by Chaucer in “The Canterbury Tales,” who referred to the day as a time when lovers find their mates.
Who was St. Valentine?
The name for our modern holiday comes from St. Valentine of Terni, a third-century Roman saint, who has become linked with the idea of courtly love. Not much is known about Valentine, other than the date of his martyrdom – Feb. 14. Valentine was reportedly killed for refusing to deny Christ by the order of Emperor Claudius in the year 280 and for continuing to marry Christian couples – specifically soldiers – despite existing prohibitions.
The most commonly repeated legend – not founded in fact – was that Valentine’s prayers healed the blind daughter of a guard where he was jailed. On the day of his execution, he reportedly left the young girl a note signed “Your Valentine.”
In addition to his links to love, Valentine is the patron saint of beekeepers, epilepsy, the plague, fainting and traveling. His flower-adorned skull is housed in Rome and is on display in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.
Modern Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day grew in popularity in England in the 1700s. People started sending cards and flowers to their loved ones, a tradition that continues today.
The first commercially printed Valentine’s Day card was produced in 1913 by Hallmark. Today, more than a billion Valentine’s Day cards are sold each year, making it the second busiest greeting card period of the year, behind only Christmas.
Today, more than 36 million heart shaped boxes of chocolate and more than 50 million roses are sold each year on Valentine’s Day.
Happy Valentine’s Day!