This post is part of Expressionary’s ”Valentine’s Day Date Ideas” series.
Happy Valentine’s Day everybody! We know that today will be stressful for some of you and for others it will be fantastic.
We hope that all of our tips and date ideas have helped you make today fantastic and helped you select the perfect gift for that special someone. We couldn’t help ourselves so here is a brief history on Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day gets its name from its patron Saint, Saint Valentine. The Catholic Church acknowledges at least three different saints named either Valentine or Valentinus. They were all martyred and each one has its own story. One of those stories is that during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, Valentine was a priest. During his reign the emperor decided single men made better soldiers than those with families and he actually outlawed marriage for young men. Seeing that this was unjust, Valentine continued to perform marriages for young men and their lovers in secret. He was discovered and put to death by the emperor. There are other variations of the story, including one where Valentine was killed for trying to help Christians escape from Roman prisons. By the Middle Ages Valentine had become one of the most popular saints in England and France.
Where Valentine’s Day gets its name is only half the picture however, let’s explore the origin of the festival. Some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Saint Valentine’s death, but others claim it was chosen by the Christian Church to help “Christianize” the pagan festival of Lupercalia. The festival of Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15, the ides of February, and was a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus, along with the Roman founders Romulus and Remus. The festival began when members of an order of Roman priests, called Luperci, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat and a dog for fertility and purification, respectively. According to the legend, later in the day all the young women in the city would put their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would then each chose a name and be paired for the year with the woman they chose from the urn. Often these pairings ended in marriage.
The festival survived the initial rise of Christianity, but was outlawed as it was deemed “un-Christian” at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February the 14th as St. Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t until much later, when the day became really associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was believed in both France and England that Valentine’s Day was the beginning of bird’s official mating season. Valentine’s greetings were popular even in the Middle Ages, but written Valentine’s didn’t appear until after 1400.
In America, we probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s and in the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass produced valentines in America. According to the Greeting Card Association, today an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making it the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, with only Christmas being larger. The funny thing is that 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women.
Valentine’s Day is a sentimental day that has evolved from pagan traditions and rituals and become commercialized, but the sentiment still remains the same: letting that someone special know how you feel about them today. Don’t just wait until today to do this, but make it a year round goal to appreciate the ones you love. Have a fantastic Valentine’s Day.
“Valentine’s Day — History.com Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts.” History.com — History Made Every Day — American & World History. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day.Google+