WITH February touted as “month of love,” millions of people around the world annually celebrate the Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday and liturgical festivity. This season has also been acknowledged as the start of the breeding period for a few avian species. This is why doves, which denote the importance of lifetime bond, are often associated with love.
An account dating back to 1400s described Saint Valentine as a temple priest who was executed by Emperor Claudius II of Rome for helping Christian couples wed. According to legend, Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer while he was imprisoned. The martyr alleged died on February 14 and after his demise, young couples would visit his cell to give him flowers and cards.
Traditionally, couples exchange gifts of affection such as chocolates, flowers and romantic cards to mark this occasion. But today, the celebration of Valentine’s Day has truly evolved.
Many Latin American countries know the day as el dia de los enamorados (day of lovers) or dia del amory y la amistad (day of love and friendship). Finland’s Ystävänpäivä, which also translates into “Friend’s Day,” is about remembering your pals than your loved ones. In Japan, women give sweets to men whom they find dear—with the quality of the chocolate indicating their true feelings. On the other hand, men repay the favor by celebrating the popular “White Day” every March 14.
Also, in the Philippines, the occasion is celebrated as Araw ng mga Puso, which is similar to how it is observed in the West.
Apart from the message that it conveys, which is to embrace and spread romantic love, Valentine’s Day has also upheld the value of love for every kind—including members of the family, relatives, and friends.
True enough, there are other ways to remarkably honor this day. The following are some of the amazing facts about Valentine’s Day:
Most celebrated holiday
In Victorian times, it was considered bad luck to sign a Valentine’s Day card. But today, Valentine’s Day is acknowledged the second most celebrated holiday around the world, second to New Year’s Day. It is also the second most popular card-giving holiday while Christmas remains the most popular.
In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names in a bowl to see who would be their Valentine. They would wear the named pinned onto their sleeves for a week for everyone to see. It was the origin of the expression “wear your heart on your sleeve.”
Real St. Valentine’s
It was St. Valentine himself who sent the first Valentine in the form of a letter to his jailer’s blind daughter, with whom he had fallen in love with. Before he was put to death at the hands of King Claudius II for marrying a soldier and his wife without the king’s permission, Saint Valentine wrote a letter to his love and signed it: From your Valentine.
In 1537, England’s King Henry VII officially declared February 14 as the holiday of Saint Valentine.
Three Saint Valentines
Although there are eight Saint Valentine’s in history, only three of them had special feast days in their honor. The two Saint Valentines, who most likely inspired Valentine’s Day, were known as Valentine of Terni and Valentine of Rome. However, some scholars speculate that the eight saints were actually one person. In reality, there are only three Saint Valentine: a priest, a bishop and one martyr.
Valentine’s Day widely used symbols today are the figure of the winged cupid, heart-shaped outlines, and doves. While red hearts are universal Valentine symbol, red roses are considered the flower of love because the color stands for strong romantic feelings.
Since the 19th century, handwritten Valentine’s Day cards were given way to mass-produced greeting cards. In fact, about one billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year, which makes the feast the second largest seasonal card-sending time of the year.
Romantic love day
February 14 was first associated with romantic love during the time of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages—when the tradition of courtly love started to prosper. By the 15th century, it evolved into an occasion where couples expressed their love for each other by giving flowers, confectionery and sending cards.
Many people in the medieval times believed that the “X” symbol was synonymous with the kiss. People who couldn’t write their names signed the cards in front of a witness with an X. The X symbol was also kissed to show sincerity.
Mother of Valentine’s Day
It was believed that a Mount Holyoke college student, identified as Ester Howland, had created the first lace Valentine card made of lace, ribbon and colorful photos. She then became known as the Mother of Valentine’s Day.