YOU might be wondering where, exactly, this day of love originated, and why, each year, we mark our calendars to remind us to tell our loved ones, well, that we love them.
There are several different myths attributed to the genesis of Valentine’s Day. However, there’s no disputing the fact that this holiday, as with most, began as a religious one. The Catholic Church has canonized at least three different Saint Valentines, all of whom were martyred and literally died for love.
The most popular Saint Valentine, and the one frequently attributed with fathering Valentine’s Day, was a Roman priest during the third century, serving under Emperor Claudius. Emperor Claudius believed that single men made better soldiers than those married and with families, and passed a law making marriage illegal for all young men. Valentine recognized the horror of this law and continued to marry young couples in secret, effectively defying his Emperor. When Claudius discovered Valentine’s acts of defiance, he had him killed immediately.
Valentine was later canonized by the Vatican and, in the 5th century, February 14th was named his feast day, the day designated by the church to honor and commemorate a saint’s life. Still, other people believe that February 14th’s designation as a day of love, comes out of something far less bloody than a martyred saint.
In France and England, February 14th is the beginning of the birds’ mating season, which symbolizes love, fertility, and the promise of spring. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in several countries throughout the world, including Mexico, France, England, Australia, and of course The United States. The day began to rise in popularity around the 17th century, where it was not uncommon for friends to exchange little gifts and notes of affection.
The first Valentine’s Day card was believed to be sold in 1840 by Esther Howland, also known as The Mother of the Valentine, and today it is estimated that over over billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year.
So whether you’re celebrating this V-day with your bae, your bff, or your couch and Netflix, take comfort in the fact that this holiday is actually historically rooted in something worth celebrating: LOVE.
“The thing about Valentine’s day is that people discover who are single and who to feel jealous of.” ~ Faye Morgan
“The brain is the most outstanding organ. It works 24/7, 365 from birth until you fall in love.” ~ Sophie Monroe
“Without Valentine’s Day, February would be ... well, January.” ~ Jim Gaffigan, Comedian
“Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop.” ~ H. L. Mencken
“A man in love is incomplete until he has married. Then he’s finished.” ~ Zsa Zsa Gabor
“Between lovers, a little confession is a dangerous thing.” ~ Helen Rowland
“There is a place you can touch a woman that will drive her crazy. Her heart.” ~ Melanie Griffith
“Love is a lot like a backache, it doesn’t show up on x-rays, but you know it’s there.” ~ George Burns