Happy Valentine's Day!

Some people say that Valentine's Day was created by the greeting-card companies just to make a profit. Is it true? Where did Valentine's Day come from?

It actually has Catholic religious origins, dating back to 496 AD, when Pope Gelasius I established the day to commemorate the martyr Valentine (although the Feast of Saint Valentine was removed from the General Roman Calendar by Pope Paul VI in 1969). Based on the earliest historic records, Valentine was martyred for trying to convert Roman Emperor Claudius II to Christianity.

Okay. Not very romantic yet.

Folklore has claimed that instead Valentine spent his life in jail for protesting Claudius's law prohibiting military men to marry. Further, legend states that Valentine wrote the first "Valentine's Day card" to the jailer's daughter, whom he loved. However, there is no historical proof of these stories.

So, minus the folklore, how could the jump from martyr to romance happen?

Some people say that it has to do with associating St. Valentine with "sacrificial" love (for God), which just became love in general, then "romantic" love.
Others say that the original February holiday of St. Valentine got mixed together with the Ancient Roman Lupercalia Festival of fertility.
Others associate the origins with George Chaucer's 1382's Parlement of Foules, which contains the line, "For this was Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate".
... and on and on...

Regardless, Valentine's Day poetry and letters appear to have long-standing tradition in Europe and the United States. As early as 1797, British publishers were banking on helping people express their Valentine's Day love on paper.

To get back to the original question, though, I doubt that there were greeting-card companies in the 14th century (or earlier) when this all began, but someone decided to make this holiday what it is now! And the reasons seem to have nothing to do with St. Valentine himself. So I don't believe that a company began this holiday, although the greeting-card companies are certainly taking advantage of it (rightly so! good economics!).

Either way, hope you all have a love-filled day!

1 comment:

  1. Valentine's Day is your great-grandfather's birthday. His name was Kelly Valentine Hoffer, although he went by K.V. Hoffer (maybe he did not like either of his names!).