The History of Valentine's Day!
- from Rõnin Shields
- Northern High School
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What do you know about Valentine's Day? Is it just a time when couples exchange chocolate hearts and teddy bears, or did it have another meaning? Did you know that there's a whole history behind Valentine's Day? Unfortunatley, there are many different stories about this holiday, and I'm here to tell you about them now!
The holiday has origins in the Roman Festival of the Lupercalia, held in mid-Frebruary. That festival, which celebrated the coming of Spring, included fertility rights. When the 5th Century ended, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine's Day. From about the 14th Century, Valentine's Day became the day to be celebrated as the day of romance.
There were also several Christian martyrs named Valentine. In fact, the day may have taken its name from a priest. According to legend, the priest signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter. Other accounts hold that it was St. Valentine of Terni, a bishop, for whom the holiday was named. Another common legend states that St. Valentine defied the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war.
Formal messages, or valentines, appeared in the 1500s. By the late 1700s, commercially printed cards were being used. The first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman god of love. Traditional gifts include candy and flowers, mainly red roses.
The day is popular in the United States as well as in Britain, Canada, and Australia. Other countries like Argentina, France, Mexico, and South Korea celebrate this holiday too. In the Philippines, it is the most common wedding anniversary. The holiday has also expanded to expressions of affection among relatives and friends, with schoolchildren exchanging valentines with one another on this day.
No matter how this holiday started, why not spend some time with loved ones this Valentine's Day.