The History of Valentine’s Day

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The history of Valentine’s Day is still a little bit of a mystery. In fact, the Catholic Church recognizes that there were a few guys named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

One legend says that Valentine was a priest during third century Rome. When Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage because he thought single men made better soldiers than married ones, Valentine continued to marry couples in secret. He was put to death when Claudius III discovered what he had been doing.

Others suggest that Valentine was killed for helping Christians escape torture in Roman prisons.

But accoring to lore, as one would guess, Valentine acutally sent the first valentine greeting! Apparently he fell in love with a young girl while in prison, for whom he wrote a letter with the signed phrase, "From your Valentine". The tag is still used today on our Feb. 14 greeting cards.

Why is Valentine’s Day celebrated in February? It was possibly to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial, but others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine’s feast day on this day to "christianize" celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival that was happening around the same time.

By the 18th century, people of all social classes began to exchange little gifts and notes in celebration of the day. Today, the Greeting Card Association estimates that one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making this holiday the second largest card-sending day of the year!

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