The History Of Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2014 | South Tampa Magazine | Categories: City, Editorial, History | Tags: history of Valentine's, St. Valentine, Valentinus

St. Valentine’s Legacy Has Three Versions, All Lovely… And Deadly

Romeo warily roams the forbidden party. He spies Juliet in all her fair radiance, and upon his discovery utters aloud: “Did my heart love until now? Forswear it, sight, for I never saw true beauty till this night.”
Try beating that with your 99-cent greeting card and box of chocolates.
With its sentimental (some people may even call it downright sappy) traditions and customary I’ve-come-to-woo-you gifts, Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays many of us view as a celebration made up by the greeting card companies. Those who don’t know the legends and theories swirling around this heart-shaped holiday might even think old Billy Shakespeare himself was the creator of the day of love and transcendence.
But did you know the Catholic Church actually recognizes several versions of Saint Valentine’s, or Valentinus’ story?


Here are several accounts from the History Channel’s experts:
•    Valentine was a Roman priest who served during the third century and illegally performed marriages for soldiers of Emperor Claudis II’s army. Claudis thought single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so he had outlawed marriage. Valentine’s disobedience led to his prompt death.

•    Here’s one for all you romantics: While in prison, Valentine maintained a secret love affair with a young woman who just happened to be his jailor’s daughter. It is said that before Valentine was put to death, he wrote the young woman a letter signed ‘From your Valentine,’ sending the first “valentine” greeting.

•    There are also legends that Valentine was killed for attempting to help Christians escape the callous torture in Roman prisons. No one really knows how Valentine died. Some say he was beheaded, while others that say he got sick in prison and died. Either way, the running theme in each of these legends is that Valentine is a martyr on a mission, risking his life in the name of love. But why this day of love is celebrated in February is another debatable matter.


According to our good friends at the History Channel, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial, which occurred sometime around 270 A.D. Some claim the Christian church decided to hold the fest in the middle of the month to counteract the Pagan Lupercalia festival.
Whether you’re in it for the sweets and gifts, or you’re just following suit for a chance at romance, the history of Valentine’s Day has one moral: risk your life for love and you might get your own holiday.


The Language of Love

How The World Says I Love You
French: Je t’aime
Greek: S’ ayapo
Italian: Ti amo
Japanese: Kimi o ai shiteru
Maltese: Inhobbok
Spanish: Te amo
Swahili (Africa): Nakupenda
German: Ich liebe Dich
Korean: Tangsinul sarang ha yo
Icelandic: Eg elska tig


In 2007, the average American spent about $120 on Valentine’s Day, up almost $20 from the year before. Oddly enough, well maybe not for us guys, men spent nearly twice as much as women during Love Day.

Pop quiz: What month has the highest sale of at-home pregnancy tests? That would be March. We sense some correlation.

The U.S. Census Bureau says greeting cards are the top choice for Americans on Valentine’s Day with cards taking 65 percent of the ratings. Date night gets 44 percent, candy 38 percent, flowers get 32 percent and jewelry only 11 percent.

Talk about being in love with your job. The University of Maryland has a team of experts dedicated to educating us media folk on Valentine’s Day.

Here’s a chocolate-covered nugget: In 2005, Americans consumed about 25 pounds of chocolate a year. The number has gradually decreased since 1997, down from 27 pounds.

There are two American cities named Valentine, one in Texas and another in Nebraska. There are 14 cities in the nation with the word ‘love’ in the title.

Necco, the creator of the famed Conversation Hearts, produces 8 billion of the tiny candies each year. The company dates back to 1860.

The following celebrities have birthday’s that fall on Valentine’s Day: Matchbox 20 front man Rob Thomas, former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe, actors Gregory Hines and Jules Asner and former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein.

More people are married in Nevada everyday than any other state. Hawaii and Arkansas have the next highest ratings.