What we know today, as Valentine's Day did not always have such a celebratory aspect to it. According to History.com the ancient Romans celebrated a day in the spring called Lupercalia, which was a raucous, ancient fertility festival.
It was not until centuries later the Christians decided to pick a day in mid February to Christianize the celebration. First of all, there was more than one Saint Valentine. There seems to be some confusion as to which Saint the celebration was named for. One of them was sentenced to death after he performed secret marriages when Emperor Claudius II declared it illegal to have his soldiers married because he believed young, single men performed as better soldiers.
That was in the year 269 when the Roman Emperor was having a hard time getting enough young men to fill his armies. He decided young, married men, especially those with children did not want to serve in his armies so he issued a decree not allowing men to be married to fill his armies in his quest to take over the world! Claudius II believed his soldiers would spend more time thinking about their families than their military responsibilities.
Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as Valentine's Day in 469. It was not until the 1300s it was associated with love and romance. It was at that time considered to be the beginning of when birds began their mating season.
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It was not until the 15th century greeting cards started appearing to show one's affection toward someone else. In the 17th century, the tradition had started in Great Britain and not long after that started to catch on in the United States. That was not until the 1840s mass-produced cards were printed.
Today, more than one billion holiday cards are sent in the United States. That is more than any other holiday except Christmas, far exceeding Mother's Day! More than two hundred twenty million roses are produced for the holiday with 80% of those being red.
Altogether, Americans spend more than twenty billion dollars a year on Valentine's Day! That is roughly one hundred thirty dollars per person per year. The most popular gifts are candy in the lead and flowers next; almost 20% of that money is spent on jewelry.
In a recent survey, as many as six million couples will get engaged on February 14!
There are many legends surrounding which Saint Valentine was the one the holiday is named after. One legend has Valentine being stuck in a prison where he was beaten and very few people ever got out of these horrible conditions. According to the legend, he fell in love with a young, blind maiden, presumably the warden's daughter. Using his medical knowledge, he cured her of her blindness and before his execution sent her a card signed, "From Your Valentine" hence beginning the practice of signing Valentine cards with those words.
On February 14, 269, Valentine was beheaded for his disobedience of the Emperor. The Catholic Church later canonized the priest.
It is not a very romantic story of how the holiday got its beginning and evolved over the years to where it is today, and who knows how much of it is true, but I got pieces of this post from a couple different sources. It is amazing what one can find on the Internet! As we all know, if it is on the Internet it has to be true!
Whatever your plans are for the day, if you are with your loved one, please enjoy your activities. If you are near or far from that special person, but not with them, keep them in mind and enjoy your day.
Who knows, today may be the beginning of your new healthy relationship? That box of candy or that bouquet of flowers may be just what she or he needs today.
As always, I look forward to your comments.