Valentine’s Day and Why We Celebrate It

Valentine's Day and Why We Celebrate It

It is that time of year again, Valentine’s Day is this week, and because of that, here is some history over Valentine’s Day and why we celebrate it. Valentine’s Day is one of the most beloved or most hated days of the year, depending on if a person is single or involved in a relationship. Saint Valentine’s Day as it is more formally known as is celebrated on Feb. 14 of every year and the holiday is enjoyed in numerous countries all over the world.

It started as a celebration of several early Christian saints who were all named Valentinus. There were quite a few martyrdom stories over the different Valentines which belonged to Feb. 14, and were later added to story logs. But the most popular of all the saints was of a Saint Valentine that lived in Rome, Italy. The legend goes that he was put in prison because he performed weddings for soldiers who were prohibited from getting married. He also preached to Christians, who were persecuted by the Empire of Roman. Legend states that during the time he was imprisoned, Saint Valentine was able to heal one of the children of his warden, Asterius. It is also said that just before he was put to death, he sent the daughter he had cured a letter in which he supposedly signed it “Your Valentine” as the goodbye parting.

The holiday was first connected with romantic love in the middle Ages, when ritual of courtly love began to thrive. In England in the 18th century, it started to change into an event where lovers began to show their love for one another by giving candy, flowers and greeting cards which were called valentines. There are certain symbols which are associated with the day as well such as hearts, rose petals, doves and the character of the small winged cherub named Cupid.

John Fox, who is an English historian, believes that Saint Valentine was entombed in the Church of Praxedes in Rome. It is located close to the grave yard of Saint Hippolytus. Such a legend states that the daughter of the warden he cured went to his grave and planted a pink blossomed almond tree beside his tomb. That is the reason that in today’s society, the almond tree continues to be a symbol of lasting love.

Saint Valentine was said to always wear a purple amethyst ring. That was something that was usually reserved for only Christian bishops. Roman soldiers were able to see the ring on his hand and know the ring, so they would be able to ask him to execute a marriage ceremony for them. Due to this, the amethyst also ended up becoming February’s official birthstone.

In the beginning of the 19th century, paper Valentines started to become so popular that it became necessary for them to start becoming assembled in factories. Elegant Valentines were created with ribbons and laces. In 1835, over 65,000 Valentine cards were mailed in Britain, even though postage was extremely expensive. In the United States, the very first mass produced valentines were made and put on sale just after 1845.

Since that time, money has not been spent just on cards but also on flowers, cards, chocolates and other gifts, with just under 30 million cards being given out every year. During the second part of the 20th century, the idea of giving cards was stretched out to include all sorts of various kinds of gifts. Such presents usually include chocolate and roses and chocolates put in a heart box. In the 1980s, the diamond industry started to get into Valentine’s Day as a holiday in which to give a loved one some jewelry.

The American Greeting Card Association believes that around approximately 200 million valentines are given every year in the United States. More than half of all these cards go to loved ones that are not a spouse. Most of the time, they are given to children. When the exchanging of small valentine cards are included, the figure rises up to over the one billion mark, and teachers happen to become the individuals who receive the most valentines.

Now with the rise of the Internet, there are over millions of individuals using digital versions of making and sending loving messages on the holiday such as printable cards. An estimated 20 million e-valentines were sent in 2013, and Valentine’s Day has even been nick-named Hallmark Day because of the commercialization. Regardless, it is that time of year again, Valentine’s Day is this week, and because of that, this article discussed some history over Valentine’s Day and why it is celebrated the world over.

By Kimberly Ruble

Sources:

Op-Ed

The History Channel

USA Today

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