1. The Real Saint Valentine Is Shrouded In Mystery
Although he lived within the third century AD, almost nothing is known about this saint or the life he led. It isn't even clear what number of holy men named Valentine there have been, 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 stories say he carried out marriages between soldiers and their beloveds. In Rome throughout that time, this was towards the law. Soldiers were not allowed to marry. When Valentine was caught, he was imprisoned and put to death for defying Roman rules.
One other story also includes his imprisonment, however this time for practicing his faith and refusing to worship the emperor. While in prison, he became friends with the jailer's daughter. He prayed for her, and she was healed of her maladies. On the night time of his execution, Valentine gave his friend a note to comfort her. It read, quite merely, "From Your Valentine."
2. Matchmaking Was An Historic Roman Tradition That Preceded Valentine's Day
Lupercalia was a festival that took place every year in ancient Rome between the 13th and 15th of February. Its objective was to cleanse and protect the community. Some of the festival traditions had been meant to get rid of 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 remain collectively for a year. Surprisingly, many of these random matches resulted in marriages.
Centuries later, this historic celebration merged with the newer tradition of honoring Saint Valentine on February 14. The newer holiday was a lot more subdued, but a few of the festival's romantic points carried forward.
3. Valentine Cards Turned All The Rage In Victorian England
In the Center Ages, noblemen wrote (or hired others to write for them) impassioned love notes to their expensive ones. However it wasn't until the Victorian Period within the mid-1800s that sending valentine cards became a preferred custom.
First it was handmade cards embellished with lace and ribbon. These had 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. Right now a hundred and eighty million valentine cards are exchanged each year in the U.S. alone. Designs proceed to evolve, however coronary heart and floral themes remain as widespread as they were in Victorian times.
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