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Valentine’s Day

Enjoy some perplexing history and fun facts regarding the annual romantic day

February 14th is known as Valentine’s Day, and it is celebrated with couples giving each other gifts. Though this day is known for its romantic nature, the day itself wasn’t celebrated as such until the 14th century. The origins of this holiday are not quite certain, but there are many theories as to why this day is associated with love.

Legends Behind the Day

St. Valentine
(license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/) (Elena)

Many legends surround this holiday of love. The day itself was named after St. Valentine, though the origins of the celebration are a mystery. It is believed tohave both Christian and ancient Roman roots.

As for the St. Valentine part of the holiday, there are known to be three different St. Valentines or Valentinus, according to the Catholic Church, which were all martyred. However, it is not certain which is responsible for this day. One account of a St. Valentine is that he married lovers in secret when Emperor Claudius III declared that men could not be married. Claudius felt that married men were not as good soldiers as single ones which led him to make this decree. Once St. Valentine was discovered, he was ordered to be put to death by the emperor.

Some people, however, feel that the St. Valentine was St. Valentine of Terni. He is the one this day was truly named after, and was also killed by Claudius III. There is still one more legend, though, which circulates about St. Valentine. This narrative says that he helped prisoners escape from Roman prisons where they were being tortured to death. He was said to have written the first ever “valentine.” This St. Valentine was supposedly in love with the jailer’s daughter who visited him. Before he was killed, Valentine sent her a letter that was signed “from your Valentine,” a phrase that is still used today. All of these legends of the deeds of the three St. Valentines vary, but they do all have one commonality: Valentine is depicted as being a romantic figure, full of bravery and sympathy in all three. More details on St. Valentine’s unique legends here.

Location of the Day

There are some theories as to why Valentine’s Day lies in mid-February. Many believe that its celebration date commemorates the death or burial of St. Valentine.

However, there are some who do not agree. Another belief is that the Pagan holiday of Lupercalia was “christianized” as the feast day of St. Valentine. The original holiday was a festival of fertility in honor of the roman god of agriculture, Faunus, and the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. People of the Roman Empire would sacrifice a goat and a dog. They believed the goat symbolized fertility and the dog purification. The following day, all the single, young women would put their names in a container, and every single, young man would pick one name. The name they picked would be the woman that he was paired with for the year. Most of these couples would end up getting married. More details on the ancient Roman traditions found here.

Fun Facts

This holiday is filled with some interesting legends and many ideas on its history. The following are 10 fun facts surrounding the holiday celebrating love:

1.¬† The Japanese tradition on Valentine’s Day is for the women to give the men chocolate (more information here).

Japanese Valentine’s Day Chocolates

2. With about 145 million cards given each year, Valentine’s Day is right behind Christmas in number of cards given for a holiday (more information here).

Valentine’s Day Cards
(license: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/) (alleksana)

3. The giving of flowers to someone on Valentine’s Day dates back to 17th century (more information here).

red roses

4. People will spend millions of dollars on presents for their pets each year (more information here).

5. The first chocolate box was created over 150 years ago (more information here).

box of chocolates

6. Chocolate was once prescribed by doctors in order to heal a broken heart (more information here).

Chocolate Pills

7.In the Victorian era, people would send valentine’s to suitors in order to discourage their advances (more information here).

Valentine Envelope

8. On Valentine’s Day, men tend to spend more on gifts than women (more information here).

Man giving present

9. In the entire United States, there are four cities that are all named Valentine (more information here).

Sign for city of Valentine limits
(license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) (Nicolas Henderson)

10. The Phillipines has a tradition of holding mass weddings on Valentine’s Day (more information here).

Cardinal Nation asked some students what they would get their valentine for Valentine’s day:

Mackenzie Culler: “Probably just like candy or a teddy bear.”

Ben M√∂gebauer: “I guess chocolate.”

Sydney Vihtelic: “A giant squishmallow.”

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