Around the world, on February 14, many flowers, cards and gifts will be exchanged between loved ones as it is celebrated on Valentine’s Day.

However, the story of why we celebrate this day is a bit of a mystery.

The Valentine’s Day tradition mixes elements from both ancient Roman rites and Christian tradition. To further confuse things, the Catholic Church recognizes three different saints named Valentine.

A legend says that Valentine was a priest in Rome during the 3rd century. Emperor Claudius II decreed that marriage was forbidden for young men, as he thought that single men were better soldiers than those married to families.

Valentine, felt that the decree was unfair and unfair, and challenged the Emperor by performing secret marriages for young lovers. When his actions for the undercover lovers were discovered, Claudio ordered Valentine to be executed. Variations on this legend say that Valentine was sentenced to death for trying to help other Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often tortured.

According to another legend, Valentine may have sent the first ‘Valentine’ greeting to himself in 270 AD the day before he was executed for refusing to renounce his Christian beliefs. He reportedly sent a thank-you note to his jailer’s blind daughter for bringing him food and delivering messages while he was in prison, signed “from her Valentine.”

While we can never be sure of the true origin of the Saint Valentine legend, one thing is certain, it must have been an engaging and enduring story because in the Middle Ages, Valentine had become one of the most popular saints in France. and Great Britain.

The observance of the time of your saint’s day may have been prompted by the common practice of trying to integrate earlier pagan festivals into the Christian calendar. in this case, the Lupercalia festival.

In ancient Rome, February was considered the beginning of spring and was considered a time of purification. Houses were ritually cleaned by sweeping them and then sprinkling salt and wheat inside (we still refer to spring cleaning to this day).

Lupercalia, which began on the ‘Ides (February 15)’, was a fertility festival dedicated to the agricultural god Lupercus and the goddess of love, Juno, as well as the Roman founders Romulus and Remus. Roman maidens placed their names in an urn placed in public squares and young bachelors drew from it to get a ‘blind date’ for the next year. Most of the time, these annual matches often ended in marriage.

Pope Gelasius set Valentine’s Day to February 14, around AD 500 At that time, the “lottery” system for romantic dates was considered non-Christian and had been outlawed. During the Middle Ages, the practice of love lotteries was carried out as “luck boxes”. In France, the drawings on the boxes allotted couples one year to marry or separate. In England, it was common practice for men to use the girl’s name that they drew from random boxes on their sleeves, surrounded by a heart.

Also at this time, it was commonly believed in parts of England and France that February 14 marked the beginning of the mating season for birds, furthering the notion that Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance. .

Valentine messages began to appear in the early 15th century, and even in these formative times they were often given anonymously, perhaps going back to unknown recipients of Roman lotteries.

The oldest known Valentine that still exists today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London after his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London.

In the UK, Valentine’s Day became a popular celebration around the 17th century. It continued to establish itself, with the familiar verses “roses are red, violets are blue” that debuted sometime in the seventeenth century. In the 1850s, it was common for lovers of all walks of life to present their loved ones with small gifts or handwritten letters. At the same time, in France, people began to decorate their Valentine’s with ribbons and lace.

In the early 20th century, handwritten letters gave way to cards as advances in printing technology had improved the quality of printed cards. At the time, it was culturally discouraged for people to show their emotions as directly as a letter, so a printed card was a more acceptable method. More affordable shipping costs and increasing use of the postal system likely contributed to the rise in popularity of the Valentine’s card.

Americans probably began exchanging handmade Valentine’s cards for verse in the early 18th century. In the mid-1800s, the first mass-produced Valentine’s cards began to go on sale in the United States. Miss Esther Howland, artist and entrepreneur, became America’s first regular Valentine’s Day editor. Often referred to as “Valentine’s Mother”, Miss Howland designed many elaborate creations using lace, ribbons and colorful patterns known as “scrap”. Their cards usually cost between $ 5 and $ 10 each, and some go as high as $ 35, surprisingly expensive for the time.

The Greeting Card Association estimates that if we include children’s Valentine’s cards in the classroom, this year more than 1 billion Valentine’s cards will be opened. Valentine’s Day is the second time of year when the most cards are sent, accounting for 25% of all seasonal card sales (Christmas accounts for 60%).

It is estimated that women buy 80 percent of all Valentine’s cards, which means that a large proportion of men forget or are not very romantic when it comes to reciprocating. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, France, and Australia, and its popularity is increasing in many other parts of the world.

Facts about Valentine’s Cards (from the Greeting Card Association)

About 25% of individual Valentine’s cards are fun, and adults under 35 are the most likely to send fun cards. Valentine’s Day is the biggest e-card sending occasion of the year. An estimated 14 million e-valentines will be sent in 2008. Greeting cards are traditionally the most popular Valentine’s Day gift in the US, ahead of chocolates, flowers, or dinners out and about. . American men may take Valentine’s Day more seriously than women. In a national survey for GCA in 2007, 45% of women said they were likely to give a funny Valentine’s Day to their loved one, compared to just 34% of men. The percentage of individual Valentine’s cards exchanged by mail compared to hand delivery is approximately 50-50. Red is the most popular color choice for Valentine’s cards, followed by pink, then white. Hearts, roses, cupid and lace are traditional icons of Valentine’s cards.

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