Origin of Valentine’s Day


Happy Valentines Day card with handwritten lettering. Black calligraphic text with red heart shaped balloon isolated on pink background. Valentines Day holidays typography. Vector illustration.

Historians really don’t know who Saint Valentine was.  Some say he was a priest in Rome when Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for all young men, but Saint Valentine continued to wed young lovers in secret, ultimately causing his death.  Others insist he was Saint Valentine of Terni, a bishop, who was also beheaded by Claudius II.  While some believe Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Saint Valentine’s death or burial, others say the Christian Church might’ve placed the national holiday during this time because of Lupercalia.  Lupercalia was a pagan fertility festival in celebration of the Roman God of agriculture.  Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity, but by the end of the 5th century it was outlawed and Pope Gelasius made February 14th Valentine’s Day.  Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine didn’t appear until after 1400.  The oldest known Valentine’s poem still in existence today is from Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London during the Battle of Agincourt.  It is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to write Valentine’s notes to Catherine of Valois.  Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.  By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for people to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes.  By the 1900s printed cards began to replace handwritten notes and we saw a surge of people buying loving letters to give to their special someone.  Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America.  The “Mother of Valentine” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures.  An estimated 145 million Valentines cards are sent each year so make sure your boo gets a valentines card!