“Happy Valentine’s Day!” Today is February 14th, and that simple phrase will echo through households, workplaces, and schools across the US. Folks will exchange candy, flowers, and gifts, and the chances of eating out without a reservation this evening are slim to none! But why?
St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains remnants of both Christian and ancient Roman traditions. But where did this tradition come from, who is this mysterious saint, and why do we exchange gifts?
Differing legends celebrate different saints, all of whom were martyred in some way for their work or beliefs. While the facts behind the various stories are murky, they all emphasize a sympathetic, heroic, and romantic figure.
The Legend of Saint Valentine
One of the most well-known legends contends that Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who served during the third century in Rome. During this time, Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better warriors than those with wives and families, thus forbidding young men from marrying. Valentine realized the injustice of the decree and defied Claudius by performing marriages for young lovers in secret. When Claudius discovered what Valentine was doing, he ordered the saint to be put to death by beheading for his treasonous actions! This folklore made Saint Valentine one of the most popular saints in England and France, and he became known as the patron saint of love.
The Modern Celebration
While the Saint Valentine story set the groundwork for establishing this day as a symbol of love, English poet Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to record St. Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic celebration in his poem “Parliament of Foules.” Historians consider this poem the origin of the “modern” celebration of Valentine’s Day as a time to celebrate our romantic partnerships.
The Exchange of Gifts
By the early 1700s, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate cards and creations for folks to exchange.
Then, due to improvements in printing technology, printed cards replaced hand-written letters, which began the first mass-produced Valentine’s in America. These ready-made cards were, and still are, an easy way for folks to express their emotions. According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year. This makes Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday, with Christmas remaining in the top spot.
Whether you love Valentine’s Day or hate it, it’s a delightful reminder to let your friends and loved ones know they matter to you! You matter to me, and I am always here to guide you through buying or selling your home. Reach out to me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830.305-5248. I am here for you!