The History
 of Valentine's Day

Unbeknownst to yours truly, I went searching for a nice little well written history about Valentine's Day so that I could write an article filled with facts for the wonderful readers. Low and behold, I come to find that Valentine's Day has a murky history, being that no one really knows exactly why someone decided to send the busty barmaid flowers with a card hoping to get a booty call. Maybe it was just natural instinct, but why on February the 14th? I shall discuss some possible reasons why we now have crappy tasting little mint hearts with words like "Be Mine" and "Me Love You Long Time".


One of the more popular legends says that during the third century in Rome, Emperor Claudius II figured that since married men didn't want to be soldiers because they would have to leave their families, he should outlaw marriage. Forgetting the obvious fact that if one outlaws marriage, then very soon one won't even have an empire to run, he went ahead and put his dubious plan to work. A priest by the name of Valentine was outraged by such an injustice, and continued to marry young couples in secret (as well as videotaping their honeymoon night for them at no extra charge!). Claudius eventually learned what Val was up to, and had him put to death on February 14th. Other stories suggest Valentine was actually killed for trying to help Christians escape Roman prisons where they were tortured, but these aren't quite so romantic or cost effective to the holiday.

Another legend tells that Valentine sent the very first "valentine" himself. The legend says that while in jail, Valentine fell in love with a girl who visited him while he was imprisoned there. Supposedly before his death, he wrote a letter to his sweetheart and signed it "From your Valentine", which is exactly what people say to each other all the time on Valentine's Day. Do we see a pattern here? I think so.  No matter what the legends may say, though, Valentine's Day became a declared holiday around 498 AD by Pope Gelasius.

A few facts about Valentine's Day you didn't know (and probably couldn't care less about): 

- The term "wear your heart on your sleeve" is said to have come from an old tradition in the middle ages where young men and women would draw names from a bowl as a way to pick who their valentine was and they would then pin the name to their sleeves where it would stay for one week.

- The heart shape that is now so popular for symbolizing love has been used throughout history, though not always meaning what it does now. Variations have been found from ancient Greece, Africa, and the early hunters of Europe before the last ice age. In Sweden, however, the heart shape is associated with  "defecation" because it was an old sign for "toilet" for both males and females.

- Doesn't it seem like those little heart candies have been around forever? They practically have! Aside from having an atomic shelf life like a Twinkie, these little pastel sweets have been in production for over 150 years! The first hearts were invented in the 1860's and had a little note tucked inside that said something like "please send a lock of your hair by return mail."

Fun Links:
(symbology of the heart)
(History Channel)


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