Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day?
February 14, 2019
WORLAND – Valentine’s Day is something often seen has as a love holiday that’s more often than not only promoted by the greeting card industry. However, angel babies and boxes of chocolates seem to only work as a mask to hide the true, much darker history of the holiday.
Some know of Saint Valentine with the Roman-Catholic Church. However, it’s lesser known that there are at least three different saints who go by Valentine or Valentinus. Many legends lead to belief, however, that at least one of these saints is who to thank for the beginning of the holiday.
According to History.com, one legend states that Valentine was a priest who served in third century Rome under Emperor Claudius II’s rule. Claudius, at the time, had decided that single young men made better soldiers than those who were married and had families. It was because of this he came to the conclusion to outlaw marriage for young men. Valentine, however, didn’t think it was fair for Claudius to do such a thing and had begun to perform ceremonies in secret. When Claudius had found out, he had punished Valentine to death.
Another story mentions a different Valentine who had been imprisoned and ended up falling in love with a girl, who was more often than not believed to be the jailor’s daughter. Valentine was believed to have sent a “Valentine” greeting the girl.
Though the truth behind Valentine legends is murky, stories have more often than not deciphered him as a sympathetic, heroic and romantic figure.
There are multiple possible reasons behind why there’s Valentine’s Day, according to History.com. Some believe that it is to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial. Others suggest that it is due to the Christian church deciding to place a Saint Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February to Christianize the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a Roman festival dedicated to fertility and to avert evil spirits in order to purify the city.
During the Middle Ages, Valentine’s Day first became associated with love due to the common belief in England and France that Feb. 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season.
Valentine’s greetings were popular as far back as the middle ages, but written Valentine’s didn’t appear until after 1400. The oldest known Valentine still in existence today was a poem from 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans after being imprisoned.
By the mid-1700s, it had become common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection and hand written notes. It was cheaper postage rates that contributed to the increase of popularity of Valentine’s Day greetings.
It’s estimated that 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, some of the most common ones having begun in the 1840s thanks to Esther A. Howland, the “Mother of the Valentine” who made creations with real lace, ribbon and colorful pictures to sell.
Other trivia about Valentine’s Day includes that boxes of chocolates weren’t popular until the 19th century by a man named Richard Cadbury. Also, Vinegar Valentines – also referred to as “Penny Dreadfuls” were often given as a sign of rejection to unwanted admirers. Finally, nearly 9 million Americans buy gifts and cards for their dogs.
Whatever the origin to the holiday, Valentine’s Day is still vastly celebrated to this day in countries such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and more.