Valentines Day History
Welcome to our Valentines Day History page.
February 14th is, of course, Valentine's Day. Lovers will set aside this holiday as a means of sending their paramours greeting cards and gifts designed to promote their love and appreciation. Now, while most people are familiar with the date they may not know the true history of Valentine's Day which stretches back many hundred's of years.
The Origin of Valentines Day
First, the official name of the holiday is St. Valentine's Day and it is a day that initially honored Christian martyrs. Yes, the word martyr is used in the plural sense as there was more than one with the same name that are honored with this particular holiday. Specifically, two Valentines -- Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni - are honored along with another Valentine who died in Africa although all information about his life has essentially been lost to history. The lives of these saints were lived prior to 300 AD and, over the years, people began to forget their origins and eventually fused them as one saint.
So, how did St. Valentine (now singular) become associated with love? A myth emerged that "he" was martyred due to opposing a law that forced young men to go unmarried. This myth basically removed the true recorded lives of the saints and replaced them with folklore. Other variants of the origin state that there was an ancient Roman love holiday that was slowly Christianized as the Roman Empire fell and Christianity began to replace the old Roman religions.
The celebration of St. Valentine's Day eventually emerged in the Middle Ages but it did not grow into immense popularity until romanticized notions of courtly love started to become common. It is believed Geoffrey Chaucer played a role in perpetuating the popularity of the holiday although his role may have been somewhat exaggerated. Tying back to the theme of love, February 14 which was by this time officially Valentine's Day was also thought to be the day of the year birds mated. Chaucer wrote a poem honoring this myth and the themes of love and Valentine's Day began to fuse yet some more.
A game in the 16th century was based out of this theme as boys would draw girl's names out of a hat and then look after the girl's well being for a year and profess his love for her. (The boys were picking girls in the same way birds picked mates - randomly) In time, the girl that was picked would be dubbed the boy's "Valentine" and this started the tradition rolling. Of course, the random drawing of names would eventually be phased out and forgotten much like many of the other components to the origin of Valentine's Day. Instead, boys would simply provide the girl with a Valentine's token as an expression of love. This would later set the stage for the emergence of greeting cards in latter centuries which, in turn, helped create the modern holiday of Valentine's Day.
Read, reflect and be inspired. If you find something of value on our Valentines Day History page, enjoy its gifts and please pass it on to your friends.