Valentine's Day: Fun Facts and History About the Legendary Day of Love

  • February 09, 2017
  • Jenna Maxwell

Valentine's Day is one of the most popular winter holidays. In our modern day, Valentine's Day is a special day set aside to celebrate love and affection. It's also fun to note that additionally, Valentine's Day has some pretty cool historical roots. Here we've gathered together some of the more interesting Valentine's Day historical facts and trivia tidbits to get you ready for this upcoming day of amour!

In the Beginning. Valentine's Day likely stems from an ancient fertility festival called Lupercalia. This ritualistic festival was held in mid-February and included some pretty wild behavior including animal sacrifices and raucous feasting. During the 5th Century, Pope Gelasius tried to adapt the pagan festival into a holiday that would be more consistent with the rapidly spreading Christian faith. The Pope called his new holiday Saint Valentine's Day, the celebration to be held on February the 14th.

The Legend of Saint Valentine. Father Valentine lived during the 3rd Century in Ancient Rome. During this time there was a power hungry Emperor named Claudius that ruled the empire. Claudius became very frustrated with his armies who were largely family men who became extremely homesick while away from their loved ones. Claudius felt that his soldiers were so busy longing for their families that they weren't focusing on their duties. Feeling that unmarried men would make better soldiers, Claudius issued a harsh edict that outlawed marriage amongst those in his regiment. Father Valentine did not agree with the harsh ruling of Emperor Claudius, and at his own peril, he continued to perform marriage ceremonies in secret. Eventually, the covert wedding ceremonies of Father Valentine were discovered, and a furious Emperor Claudius had the romance-loving priest put in prison where he was subsequently sentenced to death. During Father Valentine's miserable stay in jail, legends tell of what may have happened during his confinement. There are tales of young couples married by the Father who came to visit him while he was in prison, bringing him gifts, flowers, and sometimes notes expressing their gratitude. Other stories tell of the friendship that Valentine formed with the jailer's daughter, Julia during the time of his imprisonment. In the final moments before his beheading in the year 278 AD, Julia received a handwritten note of friendship from the Father that was signed, "From Your Valentine." At this moment in history, perhaps the longstanding tradition of Valentine cards was born.

Cupid is as Cupid Does. Cupid, the bow and arrow-wielding Roman God of Love, is one of the most iconic and popular symbols used to celebrate Valentine's Day. Cupid's roots go back to the days of Ancient Greece and Rome, but it wasn't until the 1700's that Cupid's chubby and diapered visage started to make its way onto Valentine cards. Cupid's legend may be over 3000 years old, but even today he is still notorious for mischievously using his bow and arrow to shoot victims in the heart, which of course causes them to fall in love immediately.

Keep Calm and Love On. Valentine's Day is big business. American's will spend close to 20 billion dollars on the day of love, mostly on candy, flowers, and gifts. More greeting cards will be purchased for Valentine's Day than any other holiday aside from Christmas. Over 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates will be bought in the United States for Valentine's Day along with over 220 million roses!

Do you have a date for Valentine's Day? We do. It's next Tuesday - February the 14th.

Happy Valentine's Day from your friends at Halloween Express!