Valentine’s day as we know it did not truly take off until the late 1800’s. A time when marketing and innovation truly began their birth. There were two noteworthy incidents that proved to be the catalyst for today’s Valentine’s day. The Cadbury brothers perfected their recipe for sweetened chocolate and offered it for sale in ornate velvet and mirrored boxes. The boxes were keepsakes even after the chocolate was gone. Besides the gifts of sweetened chocolates, the greeting card industry received it’s boon when Miss Esther Howland gifted the first known greeting card to commemorate Valentine’s day. Since her father owned a stationery store, sales rocketed.
*Who is Saint Valentine?*
Despite, all of the commercial propaganda few people today know the origins of Valentine’s; and who exactly this Valentine person was. Arcahelogical evidence has emerged showing that there truly was a Saint Valentine. The dig revealed Roman catacombs and a church dedicated to the Saint. The legend of the Saint varies depending upon who is telling the story. It more or less is told as follows. Valentine was a priest that would secretly marry Christian couples. Because of this treachery against Claudius and an abomination to the pagan practices of the time. The Emperor had Valntine or Valentinus imprisoned. Fortunately for Valentine though Claudius took a liking to Valentine, until the day he attempted to convert Claudius.
bq. “What thing is that which I have heard of thee, Valentine? Why wilt thou not abide in our amity, and worship the idols and renounce the vain opinion of thy creance? Saint Valentine answered him: If thou hadst very knowledge of the grace of Jesu Christ thou shouldest not say this that thou sayest, but shouldest reny the idols and worship very God. Then said to Saint Valentine a prince which was of the council of the emperor: What wilt thou say of our gods and of their holy life? And Saint Valentine answered: I say none other thing of them but that they were men mortal and mechant and full of all ordure and evil.” ~The Golden Legend
After this the emperor ordered Valentine executed by clubbing and beheading. Valentine could only sit and wait in jail for his execution. Valentine prayed that those who were putting him to death would be forgiven and know of the power of God, Jesus Christ. The jailer overhearing his prayer, mocked him for saying his God was so pure and light when his daughter had not the vision to see. Saint Valentine then asked for him to pray with him and his prayers restored the young girl’s vision. Before, Valentine was finally taken to execution he passed a letter to give to his daughter. The contents of the letter and the letter itself are up for debate. It ended with from your Valentine.
*It’s all a pagan cover up*
How much of the story is true and how much is fabricated to promote the Saint no one knows for sure. It was in 496 AD when Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as a celebration of Saint Valntinus martyrdom. Many feel that as Christmas was created as a cover for the winter solstice that Valentine’s day was created as a cover up for Lupercalia.
Lupercalia, is a very ancient festival observed on February 13th -15th. The festival was in honor of the the wolf that raised the Gods Romulus and Remus. Lupercalia itself is latin for Wolf Festival. The festival consisted of sacrificing two goats and a dog. The blood of the sacrificial knife was then cleaned with a milk soaked cloth. The cloth was anointed onto the foreheads of two vestal virgins. After this the priests and the virgins then danced around the city. They would stop to anoint, women with strips of flesh from the sacrificed animals. This was believed to be an omen of good fortune, luck and fertility. The month Februrary was named after these strips use called februa. February during Roman times was much later in the year as ancient Rome used a different calendar system than we do today.