Originally the word Valentine meant the person whose name was picked from a box to be chosen as your sweetheart up until the 1500’s. Around 1533, it meant the folded piece of paper with the sweetheart’s name on it. By 1610 it then became the gift given to this special someone and by 1824 it then became a poem, letter or verse to a loved one.
Although Valentines Day is celebrated on February 14th every year, it originates from the Roman celebration called Lupercalia, which was held on February 15th, a fertility festival.
When the Romans invaded France, they introduced this festival in which Roman boys drew names of Roman girls out of an urn and then the couple exchanged gifts on the festival’s day. This was considered a pagan celebration, so in 469 C.E., Pope Gelasius decided to put a Christian spin on this celebration by declaring that it was now to honor St. Valentine (A young Roman who was martyred by Emperor Claudius II who was said to have died on February 14th, 270 C.E., for refusing to give up Christianity.)
Rumor has it that St. Valentine was a priest who defied the emperor’s ban on marriage by marrying young people in secret. He was discovered, and put to death.
The Roman Catholic Church did their best to try to ban this pagan fertility/mating festival. However, it remained popular in the hearts of the people and so they finally decided that it was hopeless to get rid of it. So they decided to redefine it as a Christian Saint Day of St. Valentine.
In 1660 Charles II officially restored Valentine’s Day into England’s society and it is due to this that Great Britain is the country who is given credit for starting the printing of greeting cards, especially those expressing love, admiration, infatuation and other emotions of love.
St. Valentine’s Day did not come to America until 1629 with the Puritans and even here went against some of the church elders, but love prevails, whether openly or publically and the church could not hold back love and passion even in the new world. About 100 years passed before the first Valentine cards appeared in the United States.
On February 14th, 1667, Samuel Pepys in his diary described a kind of valentine that he got from his wife. It was a sheet if blue paper in which her name was written in gold letters.
This became the beginning of later valentines but the custom didn’t grow quickly. It took 100 years before it was common to leave a valentine love letter at the doorstep of your sweethearts home.
Cupid is the Roman God of Love and the most popular symbol for Valentine’s Day. The Romans had Cupid as the son of Venus. His arrows were invisible and his victims (which could also include other Gods or humans) would not be aware that they were shot until they fell deeply in love.
The most popular colors that represent Valentine’s Day are red, white and pink. Red symbolizes warmth and feeling. It is associated with the color of the human heart. White is a symbol of purity. In some cases also being the color of Faith, so it means the faith of the love two people share for each other. And pink, which is a combination of red and white, is a symbol of innocence or virginity.
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