1. The Real Saint Valentine Is Shrouded In Mystery
Though he lived within the third century AD, nearly nothing is known about this saint or the life he led. It's not even clear what number of holy men named Valentine there were, or which one is honored on Valentine's Day.
Regardless, bits and pieces about the saint have made it into the realm of legends. The consensus is that he was a priest who broke the law doing what he believed in. Some tales say he carried out marriages between soldiers and their beloveds. In Rome during that time, this was towards the law. Soldiers weren't allowed to marry. When Valentine was caught, he was imprisoned and put to demise for defying Roman rules.
One other story also entails his imprisonment, but this time for practicing his faith and refusing to worship the emperor. While in jail, he grew to become friends with the jailer's daughter. He prayed for her, and she or he was healed of her maladies. On the night of his execution, Valentine gave his friend a note to comfort her. It read, quite simply, "From Your Valentine."
2. Matchmaking Was An Historic Roman Tradition That Preceded Valentine's Day
Lupercalia was a festival that took place annually in historical Rome between the 13th and fifteenth of February. Its objective was to cleanse and protect the community. A few of the festival traditions were meant to do away with evil spirits and bless crops.
There was also a matchmaking component to the festivities. Women put their names in an urn. Men picked names from the urn. The couples formed by this lottery system were expected to stay collectively for a year. Surprisingly, many of these random matches resulted in marriages.
Centuries later, this ancient celebration merged with the newer tradition of honoring Saint Valentine on February 14. The newer holiday was a lot more subdued, however some of the festival's romantic features carried forward.
3. Valentine Cards Grew to become All The Rage In Victorian England
Within the Center Ages, noblemen wrote (or hired others to write for them) impassioned love notes to their expensive ones. But it wasn't until the Victorian Era in the mid-1800s that sending valentine cards became a well-liked custom.
First it was handmade cards embellished with lace and ribbon. These have been fancy cards with intricate designs that included cutouts and pop-ups. The tradition was popularized in England and made its way to the U.S. a number of decades later.
With advances in printing technology, cards started to be mass-produced. At the moment 180 million valentine cards are exchanged annually in the U.S. alone. Designs continue to evolve, however heart and floral themes remain as in style as they have been in Victorian times.
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