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St. Valentine's Day is one of the most popular days of the year, but where do our traditions come from? Here is a short history. Check the menu above for more fun activities and downloads.

St. Valentine's Day and Rome

St. Valentine's Day, observed on February 14th, falls on the same day as the birthday of three Christian saints named Valentine. According to historians, St. Valentine's Day is mostly named after the Saint Valentine who lived in Rome during the rule of Emperor Claudius II in the 3rd century. According to legend, Claudius prohibited marriage of young men because single men made better fighters than those with wives and families. Saint Valentine, of course did not agree with the Emperor and performed marriage rites in secret. When Claudius learned of Valentine's defiance, he had Valentine put to death.

While in prison awaiting execution, the story says that Valentine healed the jailer's daughter. On the night before his death, Valentine wrote a note to the girl. He signed this note “your Valentine” which is an expression that is still used today. The Catholic Church honored the death of Valentine by canonizing the priest and naming him a saint. The church commemorated his martyrdom on the day of his death, February 14th and by the middle-ages St. Valentine became one of the most popular saints in all of England and France.

Pagan Beginnings of St. Valentine's Day.

Some people believe Valentine's Day has its origins in the festival of Lupercalia which took place in the ides of February (February 13 – 15) in ancient times. The festival of honored Faunus, the Roman god of shepherds and Lupa, the she wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

By the 5th century, all pagan rituals were outlawed by the church and Pope Gelasius declared February 14th St. Valentine's Day. Enforcement of the ban on pagan festivals was not easy. Many people clung to the old ways. Some believe that St. Valentine's Day was set on February 14th as a way to incorporate the festival of Lupercalia into the Catholic Church thereby drawing more people into the faith.

Modern Day Valentine's Day

Whether you believe Valentine's Day has its origins in the death of a man named Valentine or the Festival of Lupercalia, one thing everyone can agree on is that modern day Valentine's Day is a big commercial success for retailers around the globe. In the U.S. alone, Valentine's Day is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Fun Facts about Valentine's Day

At a staggering 150 million, the number of greeting cards sent on Valentine's Day is second only to the number sent on Christmas.

Over 35 million heart shaped boxes of chocolates is sold on Valentine's Day.

Over 110 million long stem roses is sold on Valentine's Day. Over 70% of those sold are purchased by men.

With an average of over 200,000, there are more marriage proposals on Valentine's Day than on any other day of the year. Learn More   Bibliography