55% of Americans will celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. But why? The history behind this holiday may be a little surprising. Its roots go back to a raucous ancient Roman fertility festival held in mid-February, called Lupercalia. We don’t need to get into the details, just think naked Romans and whips. Later the Catholic church chose this time to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day in order to Christian-ize the celebration.
But who is St. Valentine anyway? Not much is known about him, partly because there were three Christian clerics named Valentine. The most plausible namesake of this holiday had been executed on February 14 for performing marriage ceremonies in secret after Claudius II had banned marriage, thinking single men would be more willing to become soldiers. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as a day for honoring the martyr.
It wasn’t until the 14th century that the holiday became associated with love. In those days, people also believed February 14 was the first day of birds’ mating season (tweet tweet). The first written valentine was sent in 1415, from France’s Duke of Orléans to his wife while he was a prisoner in the Tower of London. It wasn’t until the 17th century, that people in Great Britain started the tradition of exchanging cards or letters. The tradition soon made its way across the Atlantic to the New World.
In the 1850’s Esther Howland, an artist and printer, became the first publisher of Valentine’s Day cards in America. Her elaborate lace cards cost between $5 and $10, and could even sell for up to $35. She soon became known as the “Mother of the Valentine.” The industrial revolution ushered in many advancements in the printing industry and by the turn of the century valentine cards were being mass produced. In 1913, Hallmark Cards came on the scene, and the modern idea of buying cards and chocolates for the ones we love was born.
If you haven’t gone out and gotten a valentine for that special someone in your life, Fuzion has got you covered! We’ve designed a free printable valentine just for you! Download it here!