History Of Valentine’s Day

Learn where the love filled tradition started

Red roses, pink hearts and endless amounts of chocolate, yep it’s that time of the year – Valentine’s Day. Every year on February 14th couples are busy celebrating over romantic dinners while exchanging cards and gifts while single ladies are celebrating with champagne, Beyoncé and all their single ladies. But, where did all these traditions come from?

Many people think Valentine’s Day started from a Hallmark card, it didn’t. In fact, Valentine’s Day is a centuries-old holiday celebrated worldwide. It is a historical phenomenon that started with Saint Valentine.

The most popular tale is of the Roman priest Valentine. Valentine was sentenced to execution by Emperor Claudius II for performing illegal marriage ceremonies. Claudius believed marriage was bad for war and that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and children, so he made it illegal for soldiers to wed. While imprisoned, Valentine healed the blind daughter of his jailer. The night before his execution he gave the young lady a card signed, “From Your Valentine”. And as the saying goes, the rest is history. Valentine’s day is celebrated on February 14th to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death. He became a canonized saint after his execution in 270 A.D.

It wasn’t until the 14th century that Valentine’s Day was associated with romance and love. Geoffrey Chaucer, an English Poet, scribed his poem, Parliament of Foules, which was the first to link the tradition of love with Valentine’s Day. Until 1847, handwritten Valentine’s Day cards were the tradition. Then meet Esther A. Howland, a Mt. Holyoke grad and budding entrepreneur who came up with the idea to produce and sell mass amounts of cards. Howland is known as the “Mother of the Valentine”.

Fast forward 168 years, now more than 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are given each year in the United States alone. Take into account the Valentine’s Day cards being handed out in school classrooms, and that number skyrockets to approximately 1 billion cards, making Valentine’s Day the second-most popular card-sending holiday behind Christmas, according to the Greeting Card Association. US citizens spend about $13.1 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts each year. Another shocking fact, women purchase approximately 85 percent of valentines.

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Sources: History.com, Huffington Post.com