History of Valentines Day

The history of Valentine's Day is a varied one, beginning in Ancient Rome. Lupercalia, the festival of the god of fertility, was celebrated in Ancient Rome on February 15. Priests of Lupercus would run through Rome with goat skins, touching everyone they met with them. This touch was desired by young women because it was believed that it would make them more fertile.

Thoughts on the history of Valentine's Day become mixed when speaking of St. Valentine. One story claims that Valentine was a priest in third century Rome. Emperor Claudius II wanted to build an army, and, deciding that unmarried men made better soldiers, outlawed marriage. The St. Valentine of this story performed secret marriages, and was put to death because of it.

Another St. Valentine legend says that, while in prison, he fell in love with the jailer's daughter, and before his execution, he wrote a letter to her signed, "From your Valentine." Other stories say that Valentine was killed for trying to help Christians to escape Roman prisons.

The history of Valentine's Day is also unclear about why it is celebrated in mid-February. Some believe that it is a celebration of the death or burial of St. Valentine, while others believe it was a Christian attempt of converting Pagans who celebrated Lupercalia. Whatever the true history, sometime around 498 AD, Pope Gelasius St. Valentine's day as February 14.

The history of Valentine's Day as we know it today began around the seventeenth century, with celebrating the day becoming more popular. Esther A. Howland started to sell the first mass-produced Valentines in the 1840's in America, and by this time, it had become common for friends and lovers to exchange gifts and notes. The first heart-shaped candy box for Valentine's Day was created in 1861 by Richard Cadbury.