As with many stories, they change over time. The origins begin to get murky, but yet parts of the story remain. The story of Valentine’s Day is no different. There are different versions that have arisen over time. Maybe you have heard one before? I know I have. But if you haven’t, and are curious to learn more, What’s Up Clarksville presents: The Story Behind Valentine’s Day.
The Catholic church has many different saints and at least 3 that were named Valentine or Valentinus. It is assumed that one of these Valentine’s was the one who helped shape this special day. One of the legends states that Valentine was a priest back in third century Rome. The emperor had outlawed marriages because he felt single soldiers made better soldiers. Valentine believed that this was an injustice and continued to secretly marry young lovers. Once he was discovered, he was put to death.
Another legend states that Valentine was imprisoned and fell in love with a young woman who visited him during his time in prison. Before he was put to death it is said that he wrote her a special letter, and signed it “From your Valentine”.
There are many other legends no doubt, as the one I heard growing up was different. Valentine was in love with a woman and they could not be together. He wrote her a note in secret, confessing his loves, before he was beheaded. No matter the difference in the legend, they all hold Valentine, as a man who was romantic and heroic.
Now one must wonder why would Valentine’s Day be celebrated in the middle of February? It could possibly have been the day of his death, and has since been commemorated on February 14th. But more than likely it has to do with the Pagan fertility festival known as Lupercalia, which was celebrated on or around February 15. By the end of the 5th century the festival of Lupercalia was outlawed as unChristian and Saint Valentine’s Day was declared. It wasn’t until much later that Valentine’s Day became a day of love.
This day of love began showing popularity as far back as the Middle Ages! But it wasn’t until the 1400’s that written Valentine’s started to appear. By the 1800’s Valentine’s Day became the way we basically know it. Friends and lovers, regardless of class and age began to exchange small gifts and notes. Once printed cards came into existence in the 1900’s, the notes changed into ready made cards. Which are still extremely popular today. So popular that it is estimated that 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent yearly (making this the 2nd largest card sending holiday).