Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day History

Before it was made into a commercial holiday meant to sell cards, flowers, jewelry and chocolates Valentine's Day was a festival celebrating fertility and health celebrated by the Romans. It wasn't even called Valentine's Day. It was called Lupercalia (wolf festival). It was given such a name because it was partly to celebrate the birth of Romulus and Remus (founders of Rome) and legend has it the twins were suckled by a she wolf.
Plutarch wrote this about the festival:Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.
Sounds incredibly romantic doesn't it? It wasn't until the early 1300's that Valentines Day was considered linked with lovers. Before that it was merely a celebration of multiple martyrs named Valentine. According to Wikipedia the first written link between the day and lovers was in Chaucer's work Parlement of Foules.

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

Sounds a little like the original Roman holiday doesn't it? How it completely became about lovers is unknown. Many scholars think it has something to do with poets who needed a monetary outlet for their creative talents. They would charge people to write verse to go inside cards destined for their lovers and potential mates.
Speaking of verse..did you know the old saying: Roses are Red and Violets are blue, Honey (sugar) is sweet and so are you. Was written in 1784? I didn't know it was nearly that old. By the way, we always said sugar...not honey. =)
Ok..how about another interesting fact about the modern holiday? The US Greeting Card Association estimates that somewhere around 150 million Valentines are sent each year in the US. That doesn't include the cards that are sent to friends who are abroad.

For more interesting facts check out the blog post later today. And if you read this whole post..You deserve a piece of candy!!


  1. Wow those Romans really took their towel whipping to a new level. I read it was illegal in at least one state of the US to towel whip! I think I should get paid for my poetry ...

    Poppies are red and plumbago is blue. When I get tired of you I will find someone new...

    What do you think?

  2. Candy? I don't mind if I do.

  3. Jocelyn- That is great!! I should have written that in Brad's card...Actually now that I think about it..we didn't exchange cards. Haha!

    TMC- You make me laugh! Thanks for reading. =)

    Limner- Happy Valentine's Day to you too!