Valentine's Day History


Valentine's Day History

Many people try to complain that Valentine's Day is nothing more than a "Hallmark holiday" dreamed up by businesses seeking to profit from the desperate masses seeking love. Valentine's Day traces its history back to ancient Rome, long before any such businesses started looking towards their bottom line.

In ancient Rome, February 14th was declared to be a celebration for Juno, queen of all the Roman gods and goddesses. Some believe that St. Valentine helped prisoners of harsh Roman prisons escape and thus was imprisoned by the Roman Empire. This legend continues that, while in prison, St. Valentine fell in love with his jailor's daughter and began to send her written love letters signed "From your valentine."

The prevailing legend is that St. Valentine was a Roman priest who began to secretly marry couples against the direct orders of Emperor Claudius II. The people continued this for a short period of time, and then reverted back to choosing names of girls instead of the saints.

By the 15th Century, St. Valentines Day was celebrated with lovers singing their romantic feelings to their chosen ones. Soon, valentine brands became known for their unique properties. Fraktur Valentines were known for their ornate, medieval-style lettering. A piece of paper was folded and cut into an elaborate, lacey pattern for Cutout Valentines. Puzzle Purse Valentines were complex puzzles of folded paper, allowing different portions of the valentine to be exposed at different times. Oilpaper stencils were used to paint Theoren Valentines. And Pinprick Valentines were made by, naturally, pricking a piece of paper repeatedly to transform the paper into a lace of sorts.

By the 18th Century, Valentine's Day became extremely popular throughout Great Britain and lovers began to exchange token gifts alongside their valentine cards. In the 1840's, Esther A. Howland began her company producing valentines in the United States. She became known as the Mother of the Valentine, producing beautiful cards of colored paper, lace, and ornate lettering. By the late 19th Century, valentines were produced in factories by Norcross, later to be known as Hallmark.

valentine's day history

These factory-produced valentines grew to encompass more than just declarations of undying love and devotion. Today, Valentine's Day is celebrated as a holiday honoring romance. Boys and girls no longer pick names out of a jar, but instead exchange valentines with token messages of affection. In the tradition of Great Britain, children often exchange small sweets, while adult lovers give each other large cases of sweets and gifts.

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