In recent years, Valentine’s Day has become widely associated with candy, flowers and cards and has become the epitome of a “hallmark holiday.” However, most people do not know a lot of the history behind it. February 14 is the day of love and romance, but where did it all begin?
The first valentine was sent in 1415.
According to History.com, the oldest record of a Valentine card being sent was in 1415 when a poem, written by a French medieval duke, was sent to his wife while he was in prison. How romantic!!! I’m sure card stores everywhere have secret shrines to this man.
Valentine’s Day, but make it scary
Apparently, Valentine’s Day originally stemmed from the Pagan fertility festival of Lupercalia in Ancient Rome. All of the romantic ways to celebrate included sacrificing animals and whipping women to the point of bleeding.
The holiday was officially Christianized in the 1300s after Pope Gelasius declared February 14th “St. Valentine’s Day.” The reason we have come to associate it with love is due to the fact that birds begin their mating season on this date as well!
Who was this guy?
It turns out no one is completely sure who St. Valentine was. He may have been a man who defied the Emperor of Rome, who had banned soldiers from marriage, feeling it was a distraction. St. Valentine is believed to have illegally married couples! Once he was caught and sentenced to death, couples brought him flowers and apparently visited him in his cell. He also died on February 14. We do not know if any of this is true… but if the internet says then it must be.
145 million cards, but none for me.
Valentine’s Day is truly a cardmaker’s dream. With 145 million cards exchanged every year, it’s the biggest day for the business. Fun fact, it’s not girlfriends or wives who receive the most cards, but in fact teachers! We have come a very long way since the first mass-produced cards were created in the 1840s. Turns out, a woman named Esther Howland is credited as being the inventor, selling beautiful cards made with hearts, lace and ribbons that we associate with the holiday today.