Valentine's Day is celebrated every February 14. The origin backs to the fifth century. In 496, Pope Gelasius I established the Day as a feast in honor of Saint Valentine of Rome. He is a Christian martyr and died in 269 AD. Since then, Valentine's Day has become an important religious, commercial, and cultural celebration of romance in different parts of the World.
Legends of Valentine's Day
Many stories are explaining the connections between Valentine's Day and the Saint. According to a legend, Roman Emperor Claudius II tortured Saint Valentine and discussed converting him to Roman paganism to spare his life. Saint Valentine refused the Emperor's attempt and tried to correct his belief. Therefore, the Saint was executed. Before execution, however, Valentine healed a girl, Julia, the daughter of his Jailer. Julia and forty-six members households of the Jailer believed in Jesus.
An additional embellishment suggests that the evening just before execution, Valentine wrote the first "valentine" card to Julia as "your valentine." By the time, this has become a common expression of Valentine's Day as "from your valentine."
Another legend claims that Emperor Claudius II forbade soldiers from the wedding because he believed the married men were not good enough for the army. Valentine opposed the ban and continued to perform Christian marriages secretly for soldiers. The Saint gave hearts cutting from parchment to those men to remind their vows and God's love. Today's extensive use of heart on Valentine's Day comes from this ritual.
Ancient Roman Ritual of Lupercalia
Many claim that Valentine's Day is the Christianization of the ancient Roman ritual of Lupercalia despite having no clear evidence. According to these people, Valentine's Day's roots go back to paganism, claiming that February 15 was the Day of the fertility festival devoted to the Roman founders, Romulus and Remus, and Faunus, the Roman agriculture god. Lupercalia was connected with fertility, health, and purification but not with love.
The festival members, Luperci, which consists of priests, would convene at the sacred Lupercal cave. Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were claimed to have been nurtured by a she-wolf at this cave. One of the priests would sacrifice a goat for fertility, and a dog, for purification. Then, the blood would wash with milk. The blood(red) and milk(white) were the colors of the feast and the colors of Valentine's Day nowadays. The Pope banned the ancient Roman ritual Lupercalia at the end of the 5th century.
Valentine's Day and Romantic Love
The Parliament of Fowls (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer is believed the first registered in connection with Valentine's Day and romantic love. Chaucer dreams of a parliament for birds to choose their spouses. He dedicated these verses to King Richard II and Anne of Bohemia.
The annual celebration of love every February 14 is described for the first time in the Carter of the Court of the Love. Written by Charles VI of France in 1400, the Charter defines royal members' attempting to festivities including jousting and dancing, poetry competitions, and a feast.
Commercialization of Valentine's Day
The Young Man's Writer that included many suggested romantic verses for young darlings who cannot compose their own, was published in Britain in 1797. Printers began to produce cards with lines and sketches, called "mechanical valentines." In the 19th-century, Paper Valentines were so popular, and they were assembled in factories. Just in the UK, around 60.000 valentine cards were sent by post in 1835, and the number increased 400.000 at the beginning of 1840th.
The mass production of cards for Valentine's Day began in 1847 in the United States. England inspired the sector in the USA. Due to the mass production of valentines, handwritten notes lose their importance since the 19th century. People have not only sent cards but chocolates, flowers, and a variety of gifts. In 2015 in the UK, 1.9 billion was purchased for February 14.
From the 19th century to now, new technologies have brought new ways to celebrate Valentine's Day. For instance, the spread of the internet has changed traditions and digital means of the Day. E-cards, printable greeting cards, and love coupons are common in today's World. February 14 is seen as a Hallmark Holiday due to its economic benefits.
Worldwide Celebration of Valentine's Day
Presenting flowers, sending greeting cards, and other Valentine's Day customs developed in England and then spread all other parts of the World. Some countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan are against the Day's greeting since it is considered a Christian feast. Nevertheless, even in these states, many people commemorate Valentine's Day.
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