HuffingtonPost.com explains that while the history of Valentine’s Day is sometimes debated, it clearly links back to a Catholic saint named St. Valentine. The problem is there are actually three St. Valentine’s — one a priest, one a bishop, and little is known about the third. All were martyrs.
In 469 A.D., Pope Gelasius declared Feb. 14 a day to honor St. Valentine, one of these three men.
One legend says that a Roman emperor banned soldiers from marrying in the third century, but St. Valentine took issue with this. He became an advocate for soldiers and was executed as a result of his outspokenness.
Another legend says St. Valentine was executed for his beliefs in Christianity and just before he died, he left a farewell note for a loved one and signed it “From Your Valentine.”
A conventional and widely accepted belief about the holiday itself is that Valentine’s Day grew out of a Middle Ages tradition of celebrating Feb. 14 as the day “the birds began to pair.” History.com notes that February has long been associated with being a month of love, and Feb. 15 was celebrated in ancient times as a fertility festival.
According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year lagging behind Christmas. Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.
Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum. The first commercial Valentine’s Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.”
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day! And if you don’t have someone special to spend the holiday with, that’s OK! Love yourself and write a note reminding you why you are special in God’s eyes. Or better yet, write a love note to God Himself! He loves getting Valentine’s too!