Cupid is just around the corner, waiting to sneak up on poor, unsuspecting fellows. Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending and gift giving holiday after Christmas.
How did Valentine’s Day become a day of Love? February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and comes from vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.
History says Saint Valentine was probably one of three possible Catholic Saints, all of whom were martyred. According to one legend, probably around 270 A.D., an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl, possibly his jailor’s daughter, who visited him during his imprisonment. Before his death, it is asserted that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.
Another theory is that around the 5th century, the Christian church may have decided to place the St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, by then a fertility festival. It was celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15.
During the Middle Ages, in France and England, it was also commonly believed that February 14 was the beginning of bird mating season, which added to the idea that Valentine’s Day was a day for romance.