Most people know Valentine’s Day as the day of love, candy and roses, but it actually has an interesting origin story.
Valentine was actually a person, Saint Valentine.
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the day of St. Valentine’s death to commemorate the Saint.
So how did the story of this Saint become the Valentine’s Day that we know today?
The date turned into a festival called Lupercalia that was basically a day of sacrificing animals that was believed to help with fertility and purity. It was then outlawed in the 5th century and deemed the day of romance.
The oldest known valentine still exist today. It was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London after he was capturing during the Battle of Agincourt.
Valentine’s Day began to be celebrated in American around the 1700’s and by the 1800’s Valentine cards were being mass produced. The tradition of love ones exchanging small tokens to show their love to one another was born.
Of course if you love someone you don’t need a specific day to tell them, but this holiday can just be a fun reminder and excuse to eat some candy!