The origin of the holiday is more complicated and even confusing than you could thought. That were the ancient Romans who could hit on women they like by (you may be surprised!) …hitting them. The men could do it during the feast of Lupercalia from 13 to 15 of February after they had sacrificed a dog and a goat.
A matchmaking lottery was also important for young people hunting for love. Young bachelors drew the names of the eligible women from a box and a couple could keep together during the festival or till the next year’s celebration. It depended on whether the match was right.
Who was this Valentine? Why is he considered to be saint? The Romans are also responsible for the modern name of the holiday of fertility and love we celebrate on February 14. To be honest, there were several Valentines honored that day. In the 3rd century A.D., Roman Emperor Claudius II twice in different years executed two men, both named Valentine – Valentine of Terni and Valentine of Rome. The trouble was with the recruiting men to his own army, so that he banned marriages.
In any case, it’s not clear which Valentine the day is dedicated to. People say one of them inspired the celebration of the day of love. He decided to perform secret marriages and because of that fact was sentenced to death by the Emperor. His martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church as well as the celebration of the St. Valentine’s Day to expel those odd pagan rituals.
There is a legend that this martyr Valentine before his death wrote a letter to his inamorata – the daughter of his jailer – and signed it ‘From your Valentine’. It was the first Valentine’s greeting. What do you think, is this fanciful story likely to be true?
In the Middle Ages, versatile pre-printed handwritten valentine cards began to appear. But paper cards and the concept of the exchange of them like we do today became popular throughout Victorian England. Any ideas who could help to romanticize in his works the holiday and make it sweeter? Shakespeare. Hope you’d already guessed.
Later the holiday itself became a big business. The 19th century was the era of industrialization, rapid advances in manufacturing and printing technologies, and mass producing factory-made cards respectively. In 1913, Hallmark Cards produced their first Valentine’s card that became a starting point of the commercialization of the holiday.
This year, near 145 million cards will be purchased for the holiday. Thanks to the different marketing companies, the annual celebration of St. Valentine’s Day has become a time not only for exchanging cards, but for sending flowers, buying chocolates, jewelry, and perfumes. Think about your sweetheart!