Ok. Valentine’s is just cards and chocolates right? And telling the person you love that you love them? (when you could easily do that on any of the other 364(365 in a leap year) days in the year, but oh well)

But do any of you know the actual story behind it? Oh, you think you do but you’re not too sure?
Well to be honest, the historians aren’t that sure either. But there are some stories that could fit and I’m going to tell you some of them today.

The stuff I already knew

There are a few Valentines throughout history who the day could link to. But only one was linked to acts of love and this is the story I have known about for a while.

Way back in the reign of Emperor Claudius II, he decided that unmarried men made better soldiers for his armies so he outlawed marriage for young men.
But you know how romantic people have to be in these stories of old, they were adamant on marrying their girls. So a priest named, yes you guessed it, Valentine defied the Emperor and married the soldiers and their girls in secret. When Claudius found out, he threw a paddy and sentenced Valentine to death.

So there’s an act of love.

Another story to do with this Valentine was about the first ever “valentine” that was sent. While in jail awaiting death, he sent a letter to a girl he had fallen in love with, believed to be the jailer’s daughter, signing it “From your Valentine”, therefore it is technically a “valentine”. But this story isn’t very clear if it is true or not.

Reading a bit more into the stories

I have read into Valentine’s Day a little more recently and found some more interesting information about possible origins.

February 14th was a day the Christians honored Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. There are many more christian martyrs called Valentine, but there are only three linked to February 14th, the third one very little was known about.
None were linked to this day romantically and after a while, what was know about these guys were lost.
In 1969, the Roman Catholic Saints calendar was revised and this day was removed for this reason; “Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14.”

Another story behind why Valentine’s is on the day it is, is that it was another pagan holiday the Christian Church tried to Christianize. The festivals observed over the 14th were/are Lupercalia (13-15th), the festival of fertility and Juno Februa (13-14th).  The Pope Gelasius I did abolish Lupercalia.

Sending Valentines
The first known Valentine card was sent in 1415 by  Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife, Bonne d’Armagnac while he was jailed in the Tower of London. He never did see her again because she died before his return home.

Valentine’s cards/messages/gifts became popular in Great Britain during the 1600s and by the mid 1700s, became the “in” thing between lovers. By the the 1800s, printed cards and envelopes and cheaper postage meant that it the sending of Valentines became even more popular because the message would be safe from prying eyes. During this time, the English became the world leader in Valentine cards printing and in the late 1800s, Kate Greenaway, who was a well known british artist, leant her work to the industry.

1880

Also in the late 1800s, Valentine cards took off in the USA with Esther Howland producing and selling laced embossed cards. She was the  leader in the American card market, with her work identified by a red “H”.  She sold her company to George C. Whitney in 1881, who then proceeded to copy a lot of her designs including the “H” and became the leader in America until he went out of business in 1942.

1850

1887

Not much has changed since these times in the way we send cards and gifts. (Just the cards have become a bit tackier, but that’s just my opinion.)

I think for now this is enough history for now and to be honest I’m finding internet research becoming a bit limited. If I was to look into it more, I would need to spend time in the library.

So I will end this little essay.
I hope you have enjoyed the read.

Sources:

1. 2. 3. 4.

Advertisements