Jackie Galford, features editor and Kaitlyn Walsh, staff writer
Valentine’s Day is usually pegged with candy, flowers, and cupid. However, there is much more to it than just these common traditions. Valentine’s Day goes all the way back to A.D. 270, to commemorate St. Valentine’s death and burial. A St. Valentine’s Day festival was celebrated in an ancient Roman city. According to legend, the young women in the city placed their names in a large urn. The city’s bachelors would pick a name and the chosen woman would become his significant other for the year, often ending in marriage.
At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius claimed February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day. But, the idea of love associated with Valentine’s day didn’t appear until the Middle Ages when France and England believed that this day was the beginning of birds’ mating season.
Even though Valentine’s greetings were popular in the Middle Ages, written greetings appeared in the 1400s. There is a poem still in existence today written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned.
During seventeenth and eighteenth century Great Britain, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of appreciation or affection with written notes and gifts. By 1900, technology improvements helped replace written notes with the first printed cards.
The celebration of Valentine’s Day in America began probably in the early 1700s with the exchanging of hand-made valentines. Ester A. Howland, the “Mother of the Valentine” made various creations with real lace, ribbons, and pictures in the 1840s.
Today, the common acts of Valentine’s Day include fancy boxes of chocolate, festive Valentine cards, and bouquets of red roses. But the origins of Valentine’s Day stretch back into the mists of time.