possible to link the celebration of Valentine's Day to an earlier
lover's feast day called Lupercalia which took place
every February 15.
day was set aside to honor the
Roman goddess of women and
Juno and the god of nature,
day, young men drew the name of a young woman from the box of
chance. The newly introduced couple then exchanged gifts of
Most of the time, the couples continued to keep
company long after festival day and in fact,
many of these
courtships ended in marriage.
Christianity spread, men of the cloth decided to give the pagan
festival a meaning more
closely tied to the church. So, in
496, Pope Gelasius created Valentine's Day, to be
celebrated on February 14th.
Historians disagree about which St. Valentine inspired the name of
the holiday. During the
200's, a Roman Priest and a bishop
from Terni, located about 60 miles from Rome, were
beheaded by the
Romans for Christian activities. Since both martyrs lived and
same time frame, historians' opinions vary.
very little information available about the earliest celebration of
Valentine's Day, it is
believed that England began to celebrate as
early as 1446.
Many of the same traditions
remained from Lupercalia. Young people chose their valentines by selecting a
piece of paper
bearing a name from a vase. By the 1700's,
high-society groups gathered in the homes of
gentry on the eve of Valentine's Day for this ceremony. Afterward, each young man
piece of paper with his lady's name on his sleeve for
several days, thus giving us the saying
"He wears his heart on his
wealthy gave fancy-dress balls to honor their valentines, while the
average young man
gave their lady a pair of gloves. The custom
of fine-gift giving was gradually replaced by
Valentine's Day became popular in America by the 1800's during the
Civil War. Hand
painted valentines were common. Many
were intricately decorated with expensive satin,
ribbons, lace, imitation gems, feathers, sea shells and even dried flowers.
Some cost as
much as $10.00, a fortune at that time in history.
After proudly displaying them, young
women tenderly stored these valentines away with other keepsakes. Many of these old
valentines are now collector's items.