The History of Valentine’s Day
By Chad Upton | Editor
Where did Valentine’s Day come from?
I’d like to say that some marketing genius at Hallmark was looking for a good reason to sell cards between Christmas and Easter, but that’s not the case. Although, they’re not shy about making the best of it — Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday for sending cards (Christmas is the leader). Approximately one billion Valentine cards are sent each year.
In elementary school, we used to decorate giant Valentine’s Day envelopes and hang them from our desks. Then we would buy a box of Valentine Cards and write a nice message for every person in our class, except the ones we didn’t like. After that, we’d walk around the room and drop the cards in each others envelopes. That was usually the end of the day, but just before we left, the teacher would feed us cake until we were mad and turn us loose on the neighborhood.
But that’s just the anecdotal history of Valentine’s Day. The real story goes back to ancient Rome. Since “Valentine” is an awesome name now, imagine how cool it was back then. That’s why there were several Saint Valentines. In fact, there were even several martyrs in ancient Rome with that name.
The one connected to Saint Valentine’s Day has a sad story that is lined with heroic romanticism.
Valentine had a strong belief in marriage. But, at the time, Christians were being persecuted in Rome by Claudius and it was a crime to help them. Since Valentine was a priest, he helped Christians by performing marriage ceremonies — he was arrested and imprisoned for it. In prison, Claudius took a liking to him and Valentine tried to convert the Emperor to Christianity. For that, Claudius sentenced him to death.
Saint Valentine was buried at Via Flaminia (North of Rome) on February 14th.