Valentine’s Day History
I have to admit before writing this article I knew very little about Valentine’s Day history.
Of course, I’d seen it in the trailers for the movie “My Bloody Valentine”.
I always thought it was a trumped up commercial holiday invented by corporations to extract lots of money from guys and make lonely women feel inadequate.
It’s actually a holiday named for the patron Saint Valentine.
But who is this mysterious patron saint and what is the overall haze surrounding valentines day really all about?
The history of this day has its roots in both ancient Roman traditions as well as some Christian traditions.
It is said there are at least three Saints with the name of Valentine or Valentinian which are recognized by the Catholic Church.
And there are two to three different legends about how Saint Valentine defied Roman emperors to perform secret marriages and others where he helped Christians out of brutal Roman prisons where they were being tortured.
Another mythical legend says that a jailed Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter and was writing her love letters which he signed “from your Valentine”.
Some believe this is the origin of the phrase which is still used today.
Some even believe we celebrate the history of valentines day and the holiday actually in the middle of February to commemorate his death which is believed to have happened around 270 A.D.
Still others say it is based on the Roman festival of LuperCalia which started on February 15 as a time of purification and cleanliness.
The festival had a dual dedication both to the God Faunus who oversaw agriculture as well as the great boys who founded Rome, Romulus and Remus.
A bit further along in history in the 1840s Esther A. Howland started selling the first mass-produced valentines day greeting cards. These were the forerunners to the Hallmark cards.
Approximately 85% of all valentines are purchased by women.
And of course, who could forget the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929.
Al Capone rose to power by sending the now infamous bloody valentine to the world where he slaughtered 7 of his arch nemesis George “buds” Moran’s henchmen.
2 of Capone’s men wearing cop uniforms raided the place and proceeded to execute the 7 men. Buds Moran was late to the meeting and didn’t get executed though it did irreparably destroy Moran’s gang.
Capone was now in charge but unfortunately for him it brought mass publicity to mob violence. This made people outraged and so Capone had a target on his back and only 2 years later was brought down for tax evasion.
Clearly, valentines day history has been very bloody and enshrouded in mystery. I guess now the new movie’s title “My Bloody Valentine” makes more sense to me.
Like you, I had just grown up with the rosy romance idealized picture of what valentines day was.
Post in the comments any of your own personal Valentine’s Day history stories of past romances gone wrong or any historically significant stories you know about which I failed to mention here. I’ll look forward to your comments.