The History Behind Valentine’s Day: Celebrating the Death of a True Romantic

Katie Cox, Writer

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Everyone knows that day in February — the day that some adore, and the day that others despise and simply want to curl up and watch Netflix or YouTube and wait for it to end.

We’re talking Valentine`s Day.

Most either love this day or hate this day (although there are a few sketchy people who “don’t have an opinion”). But whether you love or hate it, does anyone really know where it came from? How we came to celebrate this “day of love?”  

Many may or may not be aware of Saint Valentine, the Roman Catholic priest who lived in the third century. At the time of his life, many of his fellow Romans were converting to Christianity. The Emperor Claudius II was a pagan, however, and set strict rules against Christianity. He also believed that single soldiers were stronger than those who were married or had kids, so he established a law that no solider may be married.

Valentine was a hopeless romantic, though, and could not stand idly by if there were people in love, so he secretly officiated the marriages of soldiers. When Valentine was caught and jailed for his crime, it is said that he cared tenderly for fellow prisoners and even his jailor’s blind daughter.

Legend has it that the Saint cured the girl`s blindness, and his final act before his death was to write her a letter, signed  “From Your Valentine.”

Valentine was executed on February 14th in the year 270.  Two hundred years later, his execution day was proclaimed St. Valentine`s Day.

Today, an estimated 145 million cards are sold each year, making this day the second biggest holiday for greeting cards after Christmas. The closer it gets to the holiday; the more cards are sold. Half are sold the week before, and the most expensive cards are sold within two days of the event.  

Behind the greeting cards, flowers are the number one gift to give, followed closely by chocolate and then jewelry. Not all gifts have to be for other people though. An estimated nine million Americans buy gifts for their pets.

Valentine’s Day even has different versions all over the world. In Japan, women customarily give the men in their lives confections (candy dishes), with the quality of chocolate indicating the depth of their feelings. In return, men repay the favor by celebrating “White Day” on March 14th, by confessing their true feelings for the women.  

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you love the day or hate the day. The only thing that matters is it’s the anniversary of the day that a true romantic sacrificed all for love.

And what could be more romantic than that?