February 14th is thought to be the most romantic time of the year by most people. It’s a day where couples show their affection for one another and where people get the confidence to confess their feelings to those they care about. But Valentine’s Day wasn’t always a holiday focused around love and romance. It was originally a day to honor a Christan martyr named Saint Valentine but as with most holidays, the traditions and the meaning behind them evolved and changed over time. So let’s learn more about Saint Valentine and how his holiday became all about love.
There exists a number of Christian martyrs named Valentine but the one most associated with the holiday is Saint Valentine of Rome. This Valentine was imprisoned in Rome during the persecution of Christians. He died in 269 A.D. Saint Valentine is believed to be responsible for many miracles and feats. When the Roman Emperor Claudius II attempted to convert Valentine he instead converted the Emperor to Christianity. He is also reported to have restored the sight of his jailor’s blind daughter. In addition to these feats, he also performed marriages for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. To remind them of their love for one another, Valentine would cut hearts from parchment and give them to soldiers and persecuted Christians. It is believed that before his execution Valentine sent a letter to the jailor’s daughter signed, “Your Valentine.” This would later start the tradition of signing Valentine cards with, “From your Valentine.” Here is a short video about the origins of Valentine’s Day.
Centuries after Saint Valentine’s death, Pope Gelasius I established February 14th as Saint Valentine’s day in 496. When considering Valentine’s accomplishments it’s easy to see why the holiday became associated with love and romance. The clandestine marriages, he performed earned Valentine a reputation as an uniter of couples and promoter of love. A tradition of exchanging cards, candy, and gifts with loved ones quickly to hold in Europe and eventually in America as well. As far back as 1792, publishers were producing prewritten Valentine cards for purchase. Quickly Valentine’s Day became a major consumer holiday. Billions of dollars worth of cards, candy, flowers, and jewelry are sold each year all across the country. Many media companies use the holiday to air Valentine’s themed episodes or movies. Here are a few examples from The Simpsons and Curious George.
Valentine’s Day has changed a lot over the years. It doesn’t matter your age, your faith, or if you’re in a relationship, There’s something for everyone to enjoy. So get yourself or a loved one a box of candy and maybe watch a Valentine’s Special or two. Have a great February 14th.