One legend maintains that St. Valentine was a third century Roman priest who defied Emperor Claudius II’s anti-marriage decree for soldiers. The brave Valentine secretly married soldiers until he was discovered and put to death.
Another version of the legend attributes Valentine’s Death to his efforts to free Christians from harsh Roman prisons.
The most popular story contends that St. Valentine sent the very first Valentine salutation to the daughter of his jailor. He signed the note, “From your Valentine,” and the notion of handing out Valentine’s Day cards was created.
Some believe that the Christian church decided to celebrate the holiday in the middle of February to gather followers of the pagan Lupercalia festival.
Whatever the origin, Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. Approximately 1 billion cards are purchased every holiday.
American Esther A. Howland is known as the “Mother of the Valentine.” During the 1840’s, she created highly detailed cards with lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures.
Truly a multicultural holiday, Valentine’s Day is also celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.
Love history? I know you do! Check out the History Channel's Valentine's Day page.