MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14: Be sure to wish your loved ones a happy Valentine’s Day today! The annual commemoration of love that may have speculative roots in Ancient Rome has now become a day for exchanging cards, candy, chocolates and even jewelry—all in the name of love. (In need of a last-minute gift idea? Check out a helpful article from ABC Action News for inspiration.) In Ancient Rome, mid-January to mid-February was celebrated as a dedication to the love between Zeus and Hera, and Feb. 13-15 was a fertility festival. The Christian St. Valentines came into the picture just a few hundred years after Jesus Christ, although none were particularly associated with love (details are at Catholic.org); it was a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer that first began the association between St. Valentine’s Day and romance.
Did you catch the reference to St. Valentines—plural? The tangled roots of St. Valentine’s Day draw from a number of men named Valentine who were martyred in the early Christian Church. Today’s holiday draws primarily on St. Valentine of Rome, St. Valentine of Terni and a St. Valentine in Africa. (Find other interesting info at History.com.) Little is known about the lives of any of the St. Valentines, and St. Valentine’s Day was actually removed from the Roman calendar of saints in 1969. (Wikipedia has details.)
Still, the Christian Church allows a continued religious observance of this day. Valentine’s Day remains a national observance in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the UK, France, Australia, Denmark, Italy and Japan. (Find out how India marks Valentine’s Day in this article from The Hindu.)
Today’s holiday traditions began a little more than 200 years ago, with “The Young Man’s Valentine Writer”—a publication of suggested poems for young men to give to their romantic interests. Technology advanced, and Valentine cards were soon being exchanged by thousands. (Find kid-friendly card ideas, recipes, crafts and more at Kaboose.) Today, an estimated 190 million valentines are exchanged annually in the U.S. alone. Of course, new media is reshaping Valentine’s Day even further; last year 15 million e-Valentines were sent via Internet connections.