History of Valentine’s Day

History of Valentine’s Day

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History of Valentine’s Day - HISTORY

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Valentine’s Day is the ultimate day to acknowledge and celebrate various forms of love, specifically the romantic kind. American stores begin to stock their shelves with chocolates, candy, and massive teddy bears as soon as they can move Christmas paraphernalia out of the way. It’s a Super Bowl for card venders, florists, and jewelers as people scramble to find the right gift to express their eternal love. But how did February 14 turn into a commercialized holiday in the United States? Valentine’s Day’s rise to fame is an intriguing trip with lover lotteries, brand building, and more.

A Brief(ish) Look at V-Day’s Origin Stories

Many historians connect Valentine’s Day’s origins to Lupercalia, an Ancient Roman festival held on February 15. The festival (which may have predated Rome) would celebrate the dawn of Spring, a season of fertility and growth it was also a celebration of Juno, the pagan goddess of love and marriage. People would ward off evil spirits and purify their land, often sacrificing animals at the cave where, according to mythology, the twins Romulus and Remus were breastfed by the she-wolf Lupa. This is where Romulus supposedly founded Rome.

A collection of priests known as the Luperci would preside over the festival with goat and dog sacrifices. Two Luperci would have their foreheads touched with a bloody knife before it was wiped with milk-soaked wool. They would cut thongs from the skin of animals and run nearly naked, striking women and supposedly making them fertile.

W omen would be paired off with men via a lottery to celebrate the holiday in ways one would expect. A modern-day Lupercalia reference (albeit a loose interpretation) can be found in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina season two. On the show, the witches and warlocks are paired together for The Courting, a night of “unholy” abstinence, before giving way to the Hunt, which ends with sex.

There’s also the obvious historical connection to the holiday’s namesake, Saint Valentine. Several accounts about the details about his life and exploits may even suggest multiple St. Valentines. First, there’s the account of a priest who was imprisoned for ministering to Christians in the third century before Christianity became a predominant religion. He allegedly gave sight to a blind girl and sent her a note signed “Your Valentine” before he was martyred on February 14 in 270 AD.

There are also stories about a Bishop of Terni during that time period. He secretly married Christian couples to help the husbands evade enlistment in Rome’s pagan army. He supposedly cut hearts from parchment paper to give to the men to remind them of their vows and God’s love. Needless to say, this story ends the same way with Saint Valentine’s death on February 14.

Valentine was actually a common name so it’s not impossible for there to be two different men with similar missions. But it could also be various tales about the same man. Either way, this later led to The Feast of Saint Valentine on February 14, which Pope Gelasius used to replace Lupercalia in A.D. 496. All of this provides a basic explanation for how it became a major day.

A Day of Love and the Rise of Commercialization

In the fourteenth and fifteen th centuries, the day started to become associated with romantic and courtly love similar to spring’s lovebirds. Some historians attribute this to Geoffrey Chaucer, an English poet. Around the 1370s or 1380s, he wrote “Parliament of Fowls,” which contains a line about Saint Valentine’s Day being the day for a bird to choose their mate. This inspired nobles to write letters known as “valentines” to their love interests. Around 1599, Shakespeare’s Hamlet makes a direct connection between St. Valentine’s Day and being someone’s Valentine.

Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning bedtime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine. -Ophelia

As people continued to explore and expand across the world, Valentine’s Day made its way to England. Eighteenth century English and American couples started to celebrate the holiday in a way that closely resembles what we do today: flowers, sweets, and greeting cards with hearts and Cupid, the god of desire and erotic attraction. At the time, the cards were handmade with love. But people soon began to capitalize on the holiday.

A poem in Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784) includes the classic lines about red roses and blue violets. This could have influenced the association of red roses to the holiday.

“The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.”

Mount Hollyoak College Archives and Special Collection

In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling Valentines in America in mass quantities, earning her the moniker “Mother of the Valentine.” Her cards would feature lace, ribbons, and pictures, and were a cheaper option than importing cards from overseas. This sparked a steady uptick in Valentine’s Day merchandising in both America and England Cadbury’s (a British company) introduced a heart shaped box of chocolates in the 1860s.

The infamous conversation candies (pieces of candy with lovey/flirty phrases) were developed in 1866 by Daniel Chase, the brother of New England Confectionery Company founder Oliver Chase. He wanted to compete in the growing Valentine’s Day market by making his own lane. The candies did not become heart shaped until around 1902.

Around 1873, Milton S. Hershey started his first candy shop in Philadelphia. His consistent study of confection making, particularly chocolate and caramel, led to founding of Hershey Chocolate Company (Hershey’s) in 1894. The company struck sweet gold in 1907 with Hershey’s Kisses, a candy now synonymous with the day of love. Hallmark Cards (founded in 1907) sold Valentine’s Day gift cards in 1910 however, the decline in postcards’ popularity led them towards the creation of Valentine’s Day cards in 1913.

Of course, there was pushback to the holiday’s rapid commercialization. Similar to anti-Valentine’s Day sentiments today, many people thought that the push to buy mass-produced gifts in honor of love defeated the holiday’s overall purpose of creativity and celebrating love on an individual scale. Either way, the commercial rush for gifts continued to expand in subsequent decades with print advertisements for chocolate and gift ideas.

Major companies like Coca-Cola, Whitman’s, and Hallmark competitor Norcross pushed everything from cakes to pajamas to sexy nightclothes for an easy holiday cash grab. Famed diamond company DeBeers also launched its “a diamond is forever” campaign in 1948 to connect quality jewelry with an expression of love.

Valentine’s Day fell at a perfect time to entice viewers who had finally built back up some post-Christmas reserves. As expected, promotional materials heavily centered on white heterosexual couples or white women. Those that did feature people of color didn’t even use actual human beings, instead leaning towards caricatures depicting harmful and racist stereotypes.

The TV Years and Beyond

Interestingly, the rise and popularity of TV in the 1950s through the 1970s didn’t seem to have a profound effect on Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t until the 1980s when companies like Hallmark began to really put stock into V-Day commercials. This 1985 commercial is exactly what you’d expect from a cheesy advertisements during this time however, it was reflective of shifting social attitudes with some diversity (and no blatant racism) in the mix.

In 1986, Hersey’s Kisses began to lean more into love day by offering candies in pink and red foil. In the years since, Valentine’s Day has become one of the most commercialized holidays in America. It’s the subject of TV episodes and films and even the inspiration behind YouTube, which was founded on Valentine’s Day 2005 as a dating website. And Hallmark further capitalizes on the holiday with an entire TV channel playing cheesy love movies.

There is paraphernalia for everyone in a person’s life, whether its friends, lovers, enemies, or pets. Companies are leaning into social media marketing as streaming services curate content for those who can’t get enough of romcoms or dramatic love stories. Annoying as the marketing bombardment may be, it has made significant strides in recent years. Now, people from different racial/cultural backgrounds and non-heterosexual romantic relationships are in advertisements and on cards, too.

According to WalletHub, people will spend an average of $164.76 for Valentine’s Day 2021 this equals a total spending of almost $22 billion. Hallmark will offer approximately 491 different types of cards in its stores, leading the pack for sentimental valentines. Long gone are the days where the majority wrote heartfelt letters or simple gifts. Hate it or love it, Valentine’s Day is here to stay and probably won’t get any less commercial any time soon.

What is the Real Story of V alentine ‘s D ay

Nowadays, people celebrate Valentine’s Day for the whole week. They start celebrating it from 07th February and end on 14th February every year. The complete valentine’s week is written here.

Date Day
07 th February Rose Day
08 th February Propose Day
09 th February Chocolate Day
10 th February Teddy Day
11 th February Promise Day
12 th February Hug Day
13 th February Kiss Day
14 th February Valentine’s Day

A Roman Tribute To St. Valentine

There is still some mystery surrounding Saint Valentine and the holiday devoted to him, according to, as the tradition is rooted in both Roman and Christian timelines. Originally known as St. Valentine's Day, the main question is who was this patron saint, as there were at least three in existence bearing the name Valentinus, translated as Valentine. All three of these saints met an untimely fate but not before first accomplishing compassionate deeds that helped many other people. One of the most popular legends tells of a priest named Valentine who existed and served during the 3rd century, while Emperor Claudius II ruled over Rome. It was his declaration that if a soldier was without a significant other, he could better serve his country as marriage was seen as a distraction, thus making the act illegal for those who served in the Roman army. It's said that Valentine was responsible for recognizing the unfairness of it all and agreed to wed soldiers and their significant others in private, breaking the law and being condemned to death by Emperor Claudius II.

Another theory involves Valentine helping Christians escape the perils of Roman prisons, where they would have met a tragic fate. The 'Valentine's Day' part of the legend involves Valentine himself potentially falling for a woman while imprisoned, whom many speculate may have been the daughter of a jailer who worked in the same prison that Valentine was held in. Prior to being put to death, it's said that Valentine wrote a letter to the woman - a love letter, specifically - and signed it 'your Valentine,' thus setting off the idea and tradition of being a 'valentine' for the day. Not surprisingly, this figure in history, whichever Valentine was responsible for such kind-hearted deeds, would soon become one of the most popular saints in both France and England.

Valentine's Day History

Roman Roots

The history of Valentine's Day is obscure, and further clouded by various fanciful legends. There are some suggestions that the holiday's roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine's Day.

Valentines Galore

Which St. Valentine this early pope intended to honor remains a mystery: according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by that name. One was a priest in Rome, another a bishop in Terni, and of a third St. Valentine almost nothing is known except that he met his end in Africa. Rather astonishingly, all three Valentines were said to have been martyred on Feb. 14.

Most scholars believe that the St. Valentine of the holiday was a priest who attracted the disfavor of Roman emperor Claudius II around 270. At this stage, the factual ends and the mythic begins. According to one legend, Claudius II had prohibited marriage for young men, claiming that bachelors made better soldiers (although there is no record of the alleged ban). Valentine continued to secretly perform marriage ceremonies but was eventually apprehended by the Romans and put to death. Another legend has it that Valentine, imprisoned by Claudius, fell in love with the daughter of his jailer. Before he was executed, he allegedly sent her a letter signed "from your Valentine." Probably the most plausible story surrounding St. Valentine is one not focused on Eros (passionate love) but on agape (love of God): he was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion.

In 1969, the Catholic Church revised its liturgical calendar, removing the feast days of saints whose historical origins were questionable. St. Valentine was one of the casualties.

Chaucer's Love Birds

It was not until the 14th century that this Christian feast day became definitively associated with love. According to UCLA medieval scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly, author of Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine, it was Chaucer who first linked St. Valentine's Day with romance.

In 1381, Chaucer composed a poem in honor of the engagement between England's Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. As was the poetic tradition, Chaucer associated the occasion with a feast day. In "The Parliament of Fowls," the royal engagement, the mating season of birds, and St. Valentine's Day are linked:

For this was on St. Valentine's Day,
When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.

Tradition of Valentine's Cards

Over the centuries, the holiday evolved, and by the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging handmade cards on Valentine's Day had become common in England. Hand-made valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts eventually spread to the American colonies. The tradition of Valentine's cards did not become widespread in the United States, however, until the 1850s, when Esther A. Howland, a Mount Holyoke graduate and native of Worcester, Mass., began mass-producing them. Today, of course, the holiday has become a booming commercial success. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are valentines.

History of St. Valentine’s Day

St. Valentine was martyred on February 14. However, Valentine or Valentinus is the name of at least three martyred saints. The most celebrated are the two martyrs whose festivals fall on February 14. One was a Roman priest, the other, bishop of Terni.


It would appear from legend that both lived during the reign of Emperor Claudius II (Gothicus) around 270 both died on the same day. Both were buried on the Via Flaminia but at different distances from the city of Rome. A third Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of North Africa about whom little is known.

This Claudius the Cruel had banned his soldiers from getting married, believing that unmarried members were more reliable on foreign military campaigns. Valentine was beaten and beheaded because he secretly married soldiers to their wives, contrary to the ban.

It seems that the first celebration of the Feast of St. Valentine was declared to be on February 14 by Pope Gelasius I in 496. Valentine is the patron saint of beekeeping, epilepsy, and the plague, fainting, and traveling.

And, of course, he’s also the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages. Many authorities believe that the lovers’ festival associated with St. Valentine’s day comes from the belief that this is the day in Spring when birds begin their mating. But there is another view.

Roman background to St Valentine’s Day

In the days of early Rome, a great festival was held every February called Lupercalia, held in honor of a god named Lupercus. During Rome’s founding days, the city was surrounded by an immense wilderness in which were great hordes of wolves. The Romans thought they must have a god to watch over and protect the shepherds with their flocks, so they called this god Lupercus, from the Latin word lupus, a wolf.

One of the amusements on this festival day was placing young women’s names in a box to be drawn out by the young men. Each young man accepted the girl whose name he drew as his lady love. It remains unknown whether the customs of Lupercalia are perpetuated on Valentine’s Day.

Romance and St Valentine’s Day

But where did the romantic aspect of Valentine’s Day come from? The medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in the late 1370s about the Saint in his poem called “Parliament of Foules.” He links a tradition of courtly love with the celebration of St. Valentine’s feast day. This was an association that didn’t exist until after his poem received widespread attention. The verse refers to February 14 as the day birds (and humans) come together to find a mate. When Chaucer wrote the following,

“For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate”

…his was the first mention in the published literature of the holiday as we know it today!

Customs of St Valentine’s Day

Practices and customs have changed throughout the years during Christian times, the priests put saints’ and martyrs’ names into boxes to be drawn out. The name drawn out was called one’s “valentine,” and the holy life of that person was to be imitated throughout the year. It was at one time the custom in England for people to call out:

The one who succeeded in saying this first expected a present from the one to whom it was said, making things pretty lively on St. Valentine’s Day.

Shakespeare featured the idea of a romantic Valentine in his play Hamlet when Ophelia refers to herself as Hamlet’s Valentine:

“Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day.
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine”

This follows the tradition that the first woman seen by a man on the morning of Valentine’s day would be his true love. Ophelia gets up early in the morning (bedtime) so as to be the first girl Hamlet sees.

St. Valentine’s Day Cards

Paper valentines date back to the 15th century and cards to the 18th, but it took America’s enterprise to make a buck at it. Esther A. Howland produced one of the first American commercial Valentines in 1848 and sold in the first year of sales $5,000 worth — when $5,000 was a LOT of money. Today, $1.3B is spent on Valentine’s Day greeting cards.

Valentine’s Day Candy

Valentine’s Day is the second-priciest holiday on the US calendar: they spend $27.4 billion each year, $2.4 billion just on candy. On average, celebrants spend almost $200 on the day, $100 on a couple’s dinner out. Men spend three times as much as women. Money is spent on flowers, jewelry, and candy… but especially chocolate. 58 million pounds of chocolate are purchased in the seven days leading up to Feb. 14

If you’re asked if you have a date for St. Valentine’s Day, you can say

The History of Valentine's Day&mdashPlus, Why We Celebrate It Today

How did modern day love become affiliated with hearts, cards, birds, and the winged Cupid?

With the smell of roses wafting through the air, it&aposs a wonder that the world didn&apost always view Valentine&aposs Day the same way many years ago. In fact, it started out almost the opposite. Trace back far enough and the holiday&aposs origins begin with ancient Rome. What we know as one single day to celebrate our loved ones, the Romans would celebrate in three during the festival of Lupercalia, which started on February 13 and lasted through February 15. This wasn&apost your typical feast: there were sacrificial offerings and violent rampages𠅊 departure from romance that may sound a bit vile (and it was) however, that didn&apost stop women from joining in as they held the belief that it would make them fertile in the coming year. A communal lottery matched up the men and women for the three-day event. And, if the match was right, some couples would stay together after the festival was over.

In the third century, Christian martyrdom took hold of the narrative: differing legends celebrate three different saints named Valentine. One story𠅊nd the most popular𠅌laims that Saint Valentine was imprisoned by Roman Emperor Claudius II for refusing to convert to paganism. According to the tale, the priest signed a letter "from your Valentine" to his jailer&aposs daughter, whom he had befriended and miraculously healed from blindness.

Other accounts hold that it was the bishop Saint Valentine of Terni, though it is possible the two saints were actually one person. A third story tells of a Roman priest who performed weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry under the decree of the emperor. Allegedly, he wore a ring adorned with Cupid—the symbol of love𠅊nd handed out paper hearts to remind Christians of their love of God. Because of this, he is often cited as the true namesake of the holiday. And by the fifth century, Pope Gelasius had formally declared February 14 as Saint Valentine&aposs Day.

As time passed, the holiday took on a saccharine sentiment of love. We have great poets such as Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare to thank for their now-famous passages about matters of the heart. By the 1700s, valentines of the medieval era were popularized as handmade tokens𠅎mbellished with lace, dresdens, and ribbons𠅊nd exchanged between loved ones before they were started to be mass-manufactured in the mid-1800s. And for the first time in 1913, Hallmark began its printing of Valentine&aposs Day cards. Today, many of these greeting cards depict the same motifs of its origin: the winged Cupid aka the Roman god of love, birds (due to the avian mating season that&aposs believed to be timed with the holiday), red roses, and the heart.

The History of the Valentine’s Cards

by Offir Gutelzon — February 9, 2016 in Holidays

What favorite Valentine’s Day memory makes you smile? Is it a handmade, lopsided heart from one of your children? Or maybe it was a silly date with your spouse? Could it be a memory from childhood?

For us, it always began the week before February 14 in art class. We spent our class hour carefully decorating brown paper sacks or old shoe boxes for our Valentine mailbox. We remember wandering the aisle of the store in early February, carefully considering which box of Valentine’s to share with our classmates.

We would carefully sort out the different cards in the Valentine’s box, deciding which card would go to which friend. It was serious business.

Valentine’s at its best in the 1980’s

This was Valentine’s at its best in the 1980’s.

This started us thinking about how long people have been sharing heart-shaped cards. Valentine’s Day has been celebrated a long time. Since 300 AD long! There have been many evolutions and cultural traditions surrounding the largely western holiday. Take a look back at what our parents and grandparents might have exchanged for Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Cards in 1890s

Valentine’s Day was a big deal in Victorian England. This is a card your great-great grandparents might have sent to each other to share their mutual feelings of admiration.

great-great-grandparents valentine’s day card

Valentine’s Cards in 1910s

Unsurprisingly, it was in the United States where the mass production of Valentine’s Day cards began at the turn of the 20th century. The daughter of a prominent stationery company received a handmade Valentine from a friend in England, and she wanted to make more. And that is how the multi-billion-dollar industry was born. Cupids were particularly prominent in the cards you would send off to your special someone, and our great-grandparents would have received a card like this.

Valentine’s Cards in 1930s

Along came a man named Walt Disney, and the Valentine industry landscape experienced another shift. Suddenly, beloved characters sold the cards! And we haven’t looked back since. This Snow White card was the Frozen of our grandparent’s time!

Valentine’s Cards in 1950s

The midcentury’s popularity has soared recently with shows like Mad Men making the décor and fashion a fun vintage throwback. It is known for a certain endearing corniness. Our parents would have been searching the Valentine aisle for cards like these!

Modern Day Valentine’s Cards

Valentine’s Day revolves around expressing our love for the friends and family in our life. If you are looking to share the love with grandparents or other loved ones, let Keepy help! You already have the most precious moment to use for your card to say “I love you!”

History Of Valentine's Day: Origin, Facts, Stories, All You Must Know About February 14

Valentine's Day today is all about meeting up with our love, celebrating a day dedicated to what we have with good food, cozy dinner, sweet and thoughtful gifts, spending quality time with each other. But how much do you truly know about how this day came into being? Do you know the history and the origin of this day?

The day of love is also called the St. Valentine’s Day, but it has roots in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February.

This festival would be all about the coming of the spring season and also had the fertility rites. Women and men were paired together by lottery. It was at the end of the 5th century when Pope Gelasius I replaced th festival with St. Valentine’s Day. Interestingly, it was in the 14th century when it came to be celebrated as a day of love.

It is said to be the 270CE when many Christians named Valentine were martyred by the then emperor Claudius II Gothicus. Going by the legend, the priest signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter he had befriended who was healed from blindness.

There are other theories as well, as explained on the History website where it says that it was a bishop named St. Valentine of Terni, after whom the holiday was named. However, it is possible that the two saints are the same person.

According to another legend, St. Valentine had gone against the emperor's orders and secretly married couples to spare the women's husbands from war.

The wishing and the messages came up in the 1500s, and by the end of the 1700s companies at the time started printing cards.

The First Valentine's Day Advertisement

The first ads on valentines were printed in the United States in the mid-1800s. Cupids depicted valentines as Cupid is the Roman god of love. The ads had hearts that show emotion. This time of the season was also thought to be the avian mating season which begins in mid-February, so to symbolise that birds were visible on the ads and cards.

The Beginning Of The Festival

If you thought this is it, then the beginning of the festival has an even more interesting story. It was the members of the Luperci, which was an order of Roman priests, that would gather at a sacred cave. This is the cave which is believed to be where the infants Remus and Romulus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would have a ritual for purification and fertility by sacrificing a goat and a dog.

The hide of the goats was dipped in blood and taken to the streets. Weirdly it was slapped gently on women as well as crop fields but interestingly the act was welcomed by the ladies as they were of the belief that it would make them more fertile. Then, as per the legend, all the young women would put their names in an urn. It would be followed up with bachelors picking up the names and they were then paired with the respective women for a year and they would generally end up getting married.

All You Need To Know About Cupid

Cupid is depicted as a naked cherub that launches arrows of love at unsuspecting lovers. But this God infact has his roots in Greek mythology as the Greek god of love, Eros. Some say that he is the son of Erebus and Nyx and other believe that he is the child of Aphrodite and Ares. There are many who also think that he is the son of Zephyrus and Iris or even Zeus and Aphrodite.

Going by the Greek Archaic poets, Eros was a handsome God who loved playing with the emotions of men and other Gods. He would use golden arrows to incite love to sow aversion as stated in the History website. It was in the Hellenistic period when he was portrayed as the mischievous child, what you see on the Valentine’s Day cards today.

Watch the video: Κριοί - Ταύροι - Δίδυμοι: Πώς θα περάσουν την ημέρα του Αγίου Βαλεντίνου (August 2022).