St. Valentine’s Day History and fun facts

Today it is a common belief that Valentine’s Day was created as a commercial holiday, history tells a different story. While many accounts are varied, the origins of Valentine’s Day date back to ancient Rome and stories of Cupid date back to ancient Greece. Valentine’s Day as had it’s impact on the world.

Fifth Century – In an attempt to “Christianize” the pagan festival, Pope Gelasius declared Feb. 14 as Saint Valentine’s Day. There are reportedly several Saint Valentines canonized by the church. The most famous St. Valentine became known in the third century when Emperor Claudius II would call men away from their families for long periods at a time to fight for the empire. Eventually, in order to prevent love from sapping the energy of his soldiers, he banned marriage altogether. Father Valentine thought the ban unjust and continued to marry young lovers. When the emperor figured it out he sentenced him to death. It is reported that young couples that Valentine wed would visit him and secretly pass notes and flowers through the bars as symbols of their gratitude. He fell in love with one of the guard’s young daughters and on the day he was executed, Feb. 14, he passed her a note signing it, “From your Valentine,” sending the first Valentine. Although this is a legend, it recognizes the importance of the figure. By the Middle Ages, St. Valentine’s was the most popular saint in England and France.

While some say the holiday is a celebration of the saint’s death, others say it stems from an ancient Roman pagan festival Lupercalia. The actual festivities are still murky with conflicting reports of which gods are celebrated. One theory is that it is to honor the Faunus the god of fertility. At the start of the festival an animal is sacrificed then the skin, dipped in blood, is used to slap young women to bestow fertility in the coming year. Later the women would place their names in an urn to be drawn by bachelors and then be paired with that woman for the year, usually ending in marriage. This was outlawed in 498 A.D.

Middle Ages – in France it was a common belief that mid February was mating season for birds, adding to the idea that St. Valentine’s Day should be about romance.

England – Valentine’s Day became popular in the seventeenth century. By the eighteenth century it was popular to send tokens to friends, family, and lovers.

Cheaper postage and pre-printed Valentine’s cards made it popular to send Valentine’s Day greetings.

1806 – The first known Valentine sent by postage by a sailor to his wife.

1700s – Americans began celebrating Valentine’s Day.

1840s – Esther A. Howland sold the first mass-produced Valentine’s. She is known as the Mother of Valentine’s.

Americans on average send 100 million red roses.

Almost 36 million heart shaped boxes of chocolates.

One billion cards are sent each year.

With cards, dinners, diamonds, Valentine’s Day brings in about 14 billion annually.

About 85 percent of Valentines are purchased by women.

Cupid, the original sex symbol.

About 3,000 years ago cupid was known as the Greek god Eros. This is where we get the word Erotic.

He was supposedly so handsome that he made both gods and humans weak in the knees. He had two sets of arrows, gold tips for love and lead tips for hate. His mother was Venus.

Romans started calling him Cupid. Cupid is the 3,000-year-old god of love in diapers. He has become an icon for the unpredictability of love. A blindfolded cupid means that love is blind.

In the Renaissance, he began being pained as a an infant angel known as Putti. When people started sending Valentines, the image stuck.

1929 – St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

The bloodiest day in mob history when seven men were gunned down in a Chicago garage. On that fateful Valentine’s Day, Al “Scarface” Capone had his men dress up in police uniforms to raid Bugs Moran’s  hideout. The “police” lined up Moran’s men against the wall and gunned them down with Tommy guns. Moran was late to the meeting and was not caught in the attack. Capone became the undisputed boss of the underworld. Although no one was ever convicted for the murders, there was such a public outcry that within two years Capone was sent to jail for tax evasion.

Names of some romantic-sounding places:

  • Valentine, NE
  • Valentine, TX
  • Loveland, CO
  • Lovejoy, GA
  • Lovelock, NE
  • Love Valley, NC
  • Loveland, OH
  • Loveland Park, OH
  • Loveland, OK
  • Lovelady, TX
  • Loves Park, IL
  • Loving County, TX
  • Lovington, NM
  • Loving, NM
  • Love County, OK
  • Lovington, IL
  • Romeo, CO
  • Romeo, MI
  • Romeoville, IL
  • Sacred Heart, MN
  • Heart Butte, MT
  • South Heart, ND

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