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A History of Valentine’s Day

February 9, 2017

Are you in the mood for love? Well, you aren’t the only one. Valentine’s Day has been around for centuries and today it’s celebrated in countries around the around the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. But what exactly is the reason behind this romantic season?

It’s well known that Valentine’s Day is named after a Catholic saint, but which one? There are 14 saints with the name “Valentine” and there are three saints in particular (a priest, a bishop, and a martyr) that could be the reason for this romantic holiday.

One Valentine was a priest, who performed secret marriage ceremonies for young soldiers. The Roman Emperor, Claudius II, had made it illegal for the young men at the time to marry, thinking that husbands didn’t make good soldiers. Another Valentine was put in a Roman prison for his religious beliefs. Before his death he sent a letter to his love, the jailer’s daughter, signed “From Your Valentine.”

So how did the Valentine legend become a holiday? Some believe that the Catholic Church organized Valentine’s Day as a Christian alternative to the pagan festival known as Lupercalia. This festival occurred in mid-February and celebrated fertility, but it was outlawed in the 5th century as “heathen” celebration. Soon after February 14th was declared Valentine’s Day which was thought to the beginning of birds’ mating season.

Today, Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular holidays of the year. According to the Greeting Card Association, 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent every year. And 110 million roses are reported to be delivered around Valentine’s Day. And though Valentine’s Day is still a religious holiday, people of different faiths celebrate it as a day of love.

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