What is Valentine’s Day – Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine, but the legend of St. Valentine is shrouded in mystery. One legend is that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. The Romans were at war, and the Roman Emperor at the time decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. The Emperor forbade men to marry. Valentine realized this was an injustice and continued to perform marriages. Another legend states an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “Valentine” greeting to a young girl from a jail cell. A common thread is that most St. Valentine stories suggest he was a heroic and romantic figure.
Why Valentine’s Day?
At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day, but it was not until the Middle Ages, that it was considered a day for romance. Sending Valentine greetings was made popular in the Middle Ages as well, although written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400.
Valentine’s Day cards
Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. By the early 1900’s printed Valentine’s Day cards began to replace hand written romantic Valentine’s notes.
Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, is known as the “Mother of the Valentine.” In 1847, she received an English Valentine and became fascinated with the idea of making similar Valentine’s. She began taking orders for Valentine’s and soon the demand outweighed the amount she could make, so a company was born. It is estimated she made more than $100,000 annually selling Valentine’s cards.
Fun Valentine Facts:
- An estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year.
- Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.
- Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all Valentine’s.
- 3% of pet owners give their pets Valentine’s.
- The “X” symbol became synonymous with the kiss in medieval times. People who couldn’t write their names signed in front of a witness with an X.
- In 1537, England’s King Henry VII officially declared Feb. 14 the holiday of St. Valentine’s Day.
- Richard Cadbury produced the first box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day in the late 1800s.
Taken in part from FactList.com & History.com