Discovering the Origins of Valentine’s Day


Bailey Smith, Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day is a day filled with traditions and expectations. Everyone is hoping for that special someone to give him or her a box of chocolate with a card that reads, “Be my Valentine?” People have been celebrating Valentine’s Day for hundreds of years, but where it all started is a mystery.

We’ve all heard of St. Valentine, after which Valentine’s Day has been named, but his exact origin is unknown. There are various different stories and legends that suggest the roots of Valentine’s Day.

One of these stories tells of a Roman emperor, Claudius II, who believed that men who were unmarried and without children were better soldiers. A man named Valentine disagreed with the emperor, and married people in secret. When Claudius II became aware of this, Valentine was executed.

Another legend discusses a man named Valentine who was killed for helping Christians escape from prison. He was captured and sent to prison. Valentine allegedly sent a letter to his lover who had visited him in prison and signed it “from, your Valentine.”

Regardless of Valentine’s origins, he is well known throughout the world, and is one of the most popular saints in Europe. Throughout the continent, specifically England and France, card making has become a very popular ritual for Valentine’s Day. The cards were traditionally covered with ribbons and lace, and garnished with hearts, bows, arrows and other items of the sort.

This custom did not reach the United States until the 1850’s; 50 years after our European ancestors began the practice. Now, Valentine’s Day in the U.S. has been extremely commercialized.

Hallmark and other companies offer many different products that can be purchased to show your significant other how much you love them. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25 percent of all cards sent each year are Valentine’s Day cards.

However Valentine’s Day came about, it has become a day filled with love and romance. No matter how it is spent or whom it is spent with, one can always count on the comforting taste of chocolates and the sweet smell of flowers.