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Flowers, chocolates, candy hearts, and love…it’s what we think of when we think about Valentine’s Day. But how did this romantic holiday actually get started?

Some people believe it began with a Roman ritual, where women would stand in line waiting to be “gently” hit with the hide of a goat. Yes, you read that correctly. The women thought it would help them become more fertile. During this festival, called Lupercalia, there was also a matchmaking lottery. Young men drew women’s names from a jar and then they would be introduced. Many of these matches ended in marriage. This pagan celebration was held every year into the fifth century. Eventually, it was accepted by the Christians.

Legend has it that in the third century, Roman Emperor Claudius II wanted to make his army stronger, so he forbade young men from getting married. It was said that Valentine performed marriages in secret, and when the emperor found out, he was killed. The date was February 14th.

As the years went on, Valentine’s Day became more romanticized. It was even written about by Chaucer and Shakespeare. In the Middle Ages, people in Europe began making handmade cards for each other. This tradition eventually came to the New World, where, in the 19th century, factory-made cards began being mass-produced.

Today, Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-selling holiday. Over 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are purchased. Will you be one of those billion to give or receive one?

Some Valentine’s Day Symbols:

  • Cupid/Rose:
    • In Latin, the meaning of the word cupid is desire, and in Latin mythology Cupid is a chubby, naked, winged boy who makes people fall in love.
    • In Greek mythology, Cupid is known as Eros, the son of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love. If you move the letters of the word Eros around, you get rose.
  • Heart: While ancient people did not know that the heart pumped blood through the circulatory system, they knew that emotions made the heart beat faster. They believed it was the center of one’s feelings.
  • Lovebirds: Because they sit so closely to each other, it is believed that they can’t live without their mates.
  • Lace: Many years ago, women would carry around lace handkerchiefs. Sometimes, a woman would “accidentally” drop it in front of a man they were interested in. The man would then pick up the handkerchief and give it back to the woman. Therefore, lace was known to encourage romance. Today, lace is used to decorate cards and boxes of chocolates.

 

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