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For those who don’t know or can’t remember the story about Valentine’s Day I have gathered some information on how it began and why. I also found some interesting valentine facts, the significance behind valentine traditions, and some good quotes for your sweetheart.
St. Valentine Legends
Saint Valentine’s Day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 500 AD. Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. Legends about Valentine vary and no one is sure of the true story.
1. Some say he was killed for illegally marrying Roman soldiers. Emperor Claudius II deciding that single men made better soldiers than those with wives outlawed marriage for potential soldiers. Valentine continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret and Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
2. Another legend claims he was martyred for helping Christians escape punishment at the hands of the pagan emperor.
3. The most romanticized legend though is when Valentine was in prison, he fell in love with a young girl (she might have been his jailor’s daughter) who visited him during his confinement. Before his death he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.
With all of these legends there is another twist, it is also believed that Valentine’s Day is associated with the roman holiday lupercalia and was brought into the church to discourage celebrating the vulgar fertility holiday. In Ancient Rome, Lupercalia, observed February 13 through 15, was an archaic rite connected to fertility. In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius changed Lupercalia on February 15 to St. Valentine’s Day on February 14 in honor of the patron saint of lovers. Early Christians were happier with the idea of a holiday honoring the saint of romantic causes than with one recognizing a pagan festival.
The day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum. Modern Valentine’s Day symbols include the heart-shaped outline, cupid, doves, red roses, and greeting cards.
There are many theories about how the modern heart-shape came to be. Some believe it simply came from botched attempts to draw an actual human heart, the organ which the ancients, including Aristotle, believed contained all human passions. Another explanation is the silphium plant seedpod, which looks like the heart shape we know today and was reputedly used as a form of birth control. According to the theory, the heart shape first became associated with sex and then love.The Catholic Church claims that the modern heart shape did not come along until Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque had a vision of it surrounded by thorns. This symbol became known as the Sacred Heart of Jesus and was associated with love and devotion.
In Roman mythology, Cupid (Latin cupido, meaning “desire”) is the god of desire, affection and erotic love. This probably became associated with Valentine’s Day due to the Roman origin of the holiday.
Handmade paper Valentines were being exchanged in various parts of Europe in the early to mid-15th century. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.
Red roses were said to be the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Red is also a color that signifies strong feelings.
Doves are symbols of loyalty and love because they mate for life and share the care of their babies.
Valentine’s Day Fun Facts
One Billion– the estimated number of valentine cards sent each year, according to the Greeting Card Association, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)
85%– Approximately how many of the valentines are purchased by women.
In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.
The first commercial Valentine’s Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.”
Anti-Valentine Cards have been popular almost as long as Valentine cards have been. They are typically cynical or sarcastic toward romance or the commercialism associated with Valentine’s Day.
Vinegar valentines are greeting cards, or, rather, insult cards, that come in the form of an insult, decorated with a caricature and, below that, an insulting poem.
A sailors’ valentine is a type of antique souvenir, or sentimental gift, originally brought home from a sailor’s voyage at sea for his loved one between 1830 and 1890.
Men spend almost twice as much on Valentine’s Day as women do. More than one-third of men would prefer not receiving a gift. Less than 20 percent of women feel the same way.
15% of U.S. women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day.
Hallmark produced its first valentine in 1913.
The Catholic Church struck St. Valentine’s Day from its official calendar in 1969.
3%– approximate number of pet owners who will give Valentine’s Day gifts to their pets.
1,000– how many letters addressed to Juliet that the Italian city of Verona, where Shakespeare’s lovers Romeo and Juliet lived, receives every Valentine’s Day.
2– number of towns in the U.S. named Valentine. One is Texas, the other is in Nebraska.
Famous Quotations on Love
Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
– Lao Tzu
Love is the greatest refreshment in life.
– Pablo Picasso
At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.
If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.
– Claudia Ghandi
One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life. That word is love.
1 Corinthians 13:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
If you need some last minute valentine ideas read Preparing for Valentine’s Day.