The History of Valentine’s Day

Lauren Lombardi '18, Writer

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Chocolates, candy, paper cut-out hearts, red roses and so much more; Americans identify Valentine’s Day as a time to give gifts to the significant others in their lives. This year it has been anticipated that over 62% of Americans will celebrate this holiday by spending over 18.9 billion dollars. However, most people don’t know that the roots of this romantic holiday go back hundreds of years.

The exact history of Valentine’s Day is unclear because there were multiple Saint “Valentines” through the ages and some believe that although the holiday was named after Saint Valentine, the concept of giving flowers, love letters and confections originated from Geoffrey Chaucer’s, Parliament of Birds. The original St. Valentine is said to have married Catholic couples when they were being persecuted by the Romans. (Catholicism was illegal in the Roman Empire.) The second Valentine was initially liked by the Roman emperor but was eventually sentenced to death when he attempted to convert the emperor to Catholicism. Yet another story of St. Valentine was that he was locked away in jail and had fallen in love with the jailer’s blind daughter. Valentine wrote her a letter before he was put to death ending in “from your Valentine” and upon receipt she regained her sight.

The holiday was first recognized by a Catholic pope in the fifth century A.D. to honor Saint Valentine. Thereafter, Valentine’s Day was recognized as a day to cherish loved ones. This lasted for about eight-hundred years, until the seventeenth century when it became known as a day for people to exchange love letters. Valentine’s Day cards were not mass produced until the 1840’s in the United States. Today it has turned into a large marketing holiday with America alone gifting 198 million roses and 58 million pounds of chocolate. Don’t worry about finding the right Valentines day card as Hallmark has 1,330 different types from which to choose, and teachers receive more Valentines day cards than anyone else. If you do receive a Valentines Day card, you should feel special as one billion of them will be exchanged that day!

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