Updated: Feb 17
Hello everyone, February is here not only is it the shortest month of the year it’s also the month for LOVE. Happy Valentine’s Day to you. We always think of Valentine’s Day as the day to send flowers, candy have a romantic dinner. But do you really know the history of this holiday.
You might be surprised by how unromantic the history of Valentine's Day really is. Some of us love (love), thrilling at the prospect of spending a whole day celebrating it. Others feel like the popular version of love has been commercialized and confused. But regardless of how you feel about Valentine’s Day, the “holiday of love” is one of the most popular traditions in Western culture. Throughout the history of Valentine’s Day, people have used the holiday as an excuse to celebrate romantic love and passion. These days, it’s also a time to celebrate platonic love, with everyone from elementary-aged children to the elderly sharing valentines. But this holiday didn’t just magically appear out of nowhere, and contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t invented by greeting card companies. Valentine’s Day has a rich (and slightly morbid) history that you may not know about. The origin of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to the Lupercalia Pagan festival many years ago. However, this history got overshadowed during the third century when emperor Claudius II killed the patron saint Valentine on February 14. Valentine’s Day, aka Feast of Saint Valentine or Saint Valentine’s Day, is no stranger to the holiday spectrum, especially when it celebrates love. This love-filled holiday is a highly anticipated celebration for couples wherein we see an abundance of flowers, chocolates, and heart aesthetics proving how soon the event is coming. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman god of love, along with hearts, traditionally the seat of emotion. Because it was thought that the avian mating season begins in mid-February, birds also became a symbol of the day. First, the simple answer: Valentine’s Day is named for St. Valentine. But it gets more complicated than that. As it turns out, at least three Valentines were sainted by the Catholic Church, and each one has his own group of supporters claiming he’s behind the holiday. The first St. Valentine was a rebel, defying a decree from the Roman Emperor Claudius II, which said young men were not allowed to be married and had to serve in the military instead. (The Romans believed single men made better soldiers.) St. Valentine continued to marry lovers in secret. The second St. Valentine helped Christian prisoners escape Roman jails—until he was caught and imprisoned himself. His last act before death was to miraculously heal the daughter of his jailer, thereby converting the whole family to Christianity. In some versions of the story, St. Valentine II was even in love with the daughter, but their love was tragically cut short. The third St. Valentine was a Catholic bishop in Terni. History hasn’t remembered much about him, and the stories of all three saints have become entwined over the centuries. The story became so murky and confusing that, in 1969, the Catholic Church removed the St. Valentine’s feast day from the Christian liturgical calendar. But there was one unfortunate thing all three men had in common besides their name, and it’ll give you pause before uttering your next “Happy Valentine’s Day.” In a very unromantic twist, all three were martyred by beheading by different Roman emperors. In some versions of the stories, the men were all executed on or near Feb. 14 (in different years), but historians have been unable to verify that detail.
1. Valentine’s Day started as a form of rebellion. The most popular theory about Valentine’s Day origin is that Emperor Claudius II didn’t want Roman men to marry during wartime. Saint Valentine went against his wishes and performed secret weddings, which means this day was originally founded on an act of rebellion!
2. Signing your messages with a kiss is nothing new. Typing a long line of kisses at the end of a message is something many of us do but while you may associate it most with the modern “text” era, this little symbol actually has a much longer history. Some think the cute ‘x’ symbol became synonymous with the kiss in medieval times when very few individuals could write and would end each of their letters with an ‘x’ embossed in wax or ink to show their sincerity. This evolved to represent the kiss and the rest is history (we’re not sure who decided to add ‘o’ symbols to represent hugs but we’re pretty sure it happened a fair bit later!
3. Not all valentines are chosen on purpose. Receive a Valentine today and it’s a sign that someone has a secret crush on you. Go back to the Middle Ages though and the situation is a little different. Back then, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who would be their valentine. The single women’s names would be added to an urn and single men of the town would take a name out and pin it to their sleeves for one whole week. This would allow everyone in the town to see who their valentine was and could be where the term “wearing your heart on your sleeve” originates.
4. Nearly three-quarters of men will buy flowers on Valentine’s Day. While it is hardly surprising that more men buy flowers on Valentine’s Day than women, it may shock you to learn just how many men pick up a bouquet. Around 73% of men will buy flowers on the big day while just over one quarter (27%) of women will do the same.
5. Red roses have been associated with love since Ancient Rome. We are all aware that the red rose is a common purchase around the time of Valentine’s Day – but why? Roses, and red ones, in particular, have become a symbol of love and are therefore heavily connected with the day. The origin of this tradition stretches as far back as Ancient Rome when the red rose was the favorite flower of Venus: The Goddess of love.
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