Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Where Did Valentine's Day Come From?

Rory's Block Valentine Heart
I heard a remark today about Valentine's Day being a "Hallmark Holiday."  I don't think anyone could argue with this in this day and age.  I imagine that Hallmark and other greeting card vendors, chocolatiers, and florists consider it a pretty important holiday.  However, I got to thinking about what the real significance of the day is.

An internet search revealed an interesting array of possibilities, but it seems that there was actually a person named Valentine.  Or maybe there were three.

The most popular legend seems to be that Valentine was a priest in anti-Christian third century Rome.  He was either helping Christians escape prison, or secretly marrying people against the wishes of the Emperor.  He was eventually imprisoned himself, and was subsequently beheaded for his beliefs.

February 14th is either the date of Valentine's beheading around 270 A.D., or an attempt by the church to "Christianize" a pagan fertility festival which was held in mid-february.  It was designated as Saint Valentine's Day by Pope Gelasius around 498 A.D.

So, the "Hallmark Holiday" we celebrate today has a much more serious history than we generally hear.  It's interesting to me that our secular society has managed to hijack most of our Christian holidays, which were originally hijacked from pagan festivals.  Is it a return to their true origins?

Well, secularized or not, I think this is one holiday worth keeping.  It is a day to remember those we love, and especially to remember to show it!  So, if you haven't gotten to the store yet, there's still time.  Or, there's always the homemade version (see Rory's Block Valentine Heart, above!)  And to all my readers - Happy Valentine's Day to you!

Valentine's Day history articles:


  1. Happy Valentine's Day Robin. I agree there is plenty of real meaning still be found in this over-commercialized holiday. Great post!

  2. Great history. Hope you had a great day. I do love Valentine's but it just seems so forced these days. I love the spur of the moment love days that are impromptu!

  3. Alene, I love spur of the moment, too, but sometimes the expectation of a "day" is fun, too. We do things very simply, usually just a card or small thing of candy, but I noticed as I went through the day that I was a little more gracious than usual, because I was thinking about it! Not that that shouldn't happen every day. I hope you all had a great day, also!

  4. Thanks, Carol! And a late Happy Valentine's Day to you, too!

  5. I so agree with your view on this holiday. I just children's book from Voice of the Martyrs about St. Valentine. I love hearing the true origins behind holidays.

    Happy belated Valentines Day!


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