The History Behind Valentine's Day

Every year on 14 February, the United States and a growing number of other western countries around the world, exchange cards, chocolates, flowers, and other gifts in the name of St. Valentine. Although this tradition, known as Valentine’s Day, coincides with love and romance in this modern age, few people know who St. Valentine is and where this holiday originated. Valentine’s Day is actually a centuries-old holiday from ancient Roman rituals and Victorian England.

The history of Valentine’s Day is still shrouded in mystery, but we do know that February has been a long-celebrated month of Romance. Although, Saint Valentine is a name known throughout the western world, few people know who he was or why he has his own holiday. There are many different historical claims as to who this romantic saint was, but the most popular rises from the Roman Tradition.
According to this legend, Valentine was a priest who lived in Rome during the third century. During this time, Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men so that love and family would not distract them from their duties as soldiers. Valentine found this decree to be unjust and defied Claudius by preforming marriages for young couples in secret. Eventually, Valentine’s actions were discovered and Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Today, the holiday is a bit less grim, and celebrated widely in countries such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, the UK, France, and Australia. It began being popularly celebrated account the 17th century. Friends, family, and loved ones exchange small tokens of their affection, cards, and sweets. By 1900 ready printed cards that we still see today, are common to give to loved ones to celebrate this romantic holiday. Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday, behind Christmas. An estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent every year with women purchasing 85% of them.

The 14th of February is a romantic and light-hearted holiday with an old and tragic history. It is the perfect excuse to remind those in your life that you love them!