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The Real History Of Why And How We Celebrate Valentine’s Day

The Real History Of Why And How We Celebrate Valentine’s Day
The Real History Of Why And How We Celebrate Valentine’s Day


We stuff ourselves on Thanksgiving, wear ugly sweaters come Christmas-time, and ring in the New Year with a champagne toast. That’s just how it’s done.

Similarly, ever since most of us were in pre-kindergarten, we celebrated Valentine’s Day by exchanging heart-shaped gifts and cards, red or pink flowers and chocolate (preferably from that someone special) have marked our celebrations of Valentine’s Day.

While your days spent sorting those little cardboard, Disney princess-themed valentines may be over, there are many things we expect every year on February 14 without giving much thought to the history or origins of these traditions and their associated symbols of love.

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Knowledge is power (and fun facts are, well, fun).

Here’s the history of Valentine’s Day, including the origins of the most popular traditions, symbols and gifts associated with love, St. Valentine, Cupid and Lupercalia.

The Real History And Origins Of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day began as a minor feast day honoring two Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine.

In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 decalred February 14 should be known as the Feast of Saint Valentine of Rome.

The future St. Valentine, a Roman citizen named Valentinus was jailed and sentenced to death after “Roman Emperor Claudius ordered all Romans to worship twelve gods, and told them they couldn’t talk about Jesus or they would be killed,” for Valentinus “loved Jesus Christ and could not be quiet about this love.”

Photo: Ralph Hammann – Wikimedia Commons, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Legend has it that while imprisoned, the jailer brought his blind daughter, Julia, to Valentinus for lessons. Over the course of his teachings, Valentinus taught Julia about prayer and belief in God, leading her to pray for — and then actually receive — the ability to see.

Following his execution, Julia is believed to have planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. For this reason, the almond tree and it’s light pink flowers are now considered “a legendary symbol of abiding love and friendship.”


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