Like New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day is one of those “love it or hate it” holidays. But, even if you’re not a fan of February 14th, there’s no avoiding it. So, who was the real “St. Valentine”? Was he as romantic as the folks at Hallmark would lead us to believe?
I wanted to find one guy we can all blame for the candy hearts and corny cards. But, according to the experts at the History Channel, not everybody agrees who St. Valentine really was. One of the more popular theories claims that Valentine was a priest (irony alert!), who served in third century Rome. According to legend, Emperor Claudius II believed that single men made better soldiers, so he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine “defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.” He was later put to death for his actions.
History.com writes that some believe St. Valentine actually sent the very first Valentine’s Day card. While locked up in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with the jailor’s daughter. “Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today.” History.com acknowledges that this is more legend than fact, but it does make a nice story.
So, why is it celebrated on February 14? I assumed it was because this is when St. Valentine was either born or died. Apparently, that may not have been the case. Some experts believe that the Christian church might have started celebrating Valentine’s Day in the middle of February as a way to “christianize” certain celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival.
Things have obviously changed a bit since then. Folks started handing each other hand-made valentine cards in the 1700s. “In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America.” Eat your heart out, Hallmark.
What do you guys think of Valentine’s Day? Love it? Loathe it? If you aren’t a fan, what is your favorite holiday? Please leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading,
**This blog was first published in February, 2009
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!