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The History of Valentine's Day

posted Feb 16, 2016, 7:26 AM by School Publications



Every February 14th candy, flowers, cards, and other gifts are exchanged between friends, family, and loved ones. How did this day come to be? Who is St. Valentine? What did he do to cause this day to be named after him?

    On Valentine's Day, approximately 150 million cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine's Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas. Sixty-two percent of Americans send cards and gifts to their loved ones on this day. Gifts like roses are sent, 220 million roses to be exact. Women purchase approximately eighty-five percent of all Valentines. In the 1700's the United States started making handmade Valentine's. In Great Britain, by the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the 1900's printed cards began to replace handwritten letters due to improvements in printing technology. The oldest poem that is still in existence today was from 1415 by Charles (Duke of Orleans). The United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, and Australia are all involved in the exchange of cards and gifts on Valentine's Day. 


    There are two legends as to what happened to this mysterious St. Valentine. The first story states that St. Valentine was a priest during the third century in Rome. Claudius II said single men made better soldiers than those with wives and children. Claudius II told Valentine to stop performing marriages for young lovers but he did not. He tried to continue marriages secretly but was discovered by Claudius II and was ordered to be put to death. The second legend was that Valentine was killed on February 14th for attempting to help Christians escape from prisons where the prisoners were being beat and tortured. St. Valentine sent the first "Valentine" greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl who was the jailer's daughter.  He signed the card "your Valentine"-the expression that is still used today. Another variation of this story suggests he healed the jailer’s daughter from a serious illness. No historical evidence is available to verify any of these stories, but the spirit of St. Valentine lives on in our acts of love and kindness every year.    


    By Sydney Rosborough