Many of us associate the ‘most romantic day of the year’ with flowers and cards, but how did Valentine’s Day begin and what’s the real reason we celebrate?
Valentine’s Day is an old tradition that originated from a Roman Festival known as Lupercalia, according to.
It was held on February 15 as a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture.
During the celebrations boys would draw names of girls from a box and the pair would be partners during the festival.
These matches often led to marriage.
The festival survived the initial rise of Christianity but was forbidden at the end of the 5th century when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St Valentine’s Day.
Who was St Valentine?
The St Valentine that inspired the holiday may have been more than one man.
The saint officially recognised by the Roman Catholic Church was a real person who died around AD 270.
An account from 1400s describes Valentine as a priest who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples get married.
The emperor had banned marriage as he thought single were made better soldiers.
Valentine thought that this was unfair so he celebrated marriages in secret.
When the emperor found out he was thrown in jail and sentenced to death.
Other theories think that the origen of the celebration is in Bishop of Terni, also martyred by Claudius II on the outskirts of Rome.
There are similarities between the priest’s and bishop’s stories, which leads people to believe they are the same man.
There’s so much confusion around St Valentine that the Church stopped veneration of him in 1969 – though he is still listed as an official saint.
“Valentinus” is from the Latin word for worthy, strong or powerful, and was a popular name between the second and eighth centuries AD meaning there are several martyrs with the same name.
There are actually a dozen Valentines listed and there’s even a Pope Valentine.
Why do we give Valentine’s cards?
Another idea is that when he was sent to prison, he sent a letter to a young girl he had fallen in love with and signed it “From your Valentine”. This was the first valentine card
Why is always celebrated on February 14?
Some believe that Valentine’s Day’s is celebrated mid-February to mark the anniversary of St Valentine’s death.
It’s thought to have happened in the middle of the month around 270 AD.
Others maintain that the Christian church decided to place St Valentine’s feast day at this time of the year in an effort to make the pagan festival of Lupercalia more Christian.
When did Valentine’s Day become commercial?
It wasn’t until the 18th century that Valentine’s Day took off in England. Lovers began to send, cards and flowers to their loved ones.
A great amount of printed cards got sold, then in 1913 Hallmark Cards in Kansas City began mass producing specific Valentine’s Day cards.
Now about a billion cards are sold every year and it’s the second biggest card sending time of the whole year.