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Valentine's Day Through the Ages.

Updated on February 3, 2013

The Beginning

Did you know that St. Valentine’s Day was actually started by Pope Gelasius around 498 A.D? It is unclear why Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day and what the purpose of the day was. There are three Saints recognized by the Catholic Church that were named Valentine.

One of the many legends about the origin of St. Valentine’s Day is about a priest who served in Rome during the 3rd century. During that time Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage of young men because he thought single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. The priest did not believe this to be just so he defied the Emperor and continued to wed the young lovers in secret. When this was discovered the Emperor had the Priest put to death.


Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve

The true beginning for St. Valentine’s Day may never be known, but we do know that the first written Valentines greeting started to appear during the 1400’s. In 1415 Charles the Duke of Orleans wrote a poem to his wife while he was imprisoned after being captured at the battle of Agincourt. This poem is the oldest know valentine that is still in existence today.

Valentine’s Day started to go in popularity in the 17th century and reached full swing about the middle of the 18th century where it was common for friends and lovers to exchange notes and small tokens of affection.

During the Middle ages it was tradition for the men and women to draw names from a bowl to find out who would be their valentine, they would then pin the name on their sleeve and wear it for one week, so everyone would know their true feelings, hence the phrase “wearing your heart on your sleeve”


The Chocolate Holiday

In the 1840’s a woman by the name of Esther Howland created the first mass produced valentines in America. Her cards were created using colorful pictures, and decorated with lace and ribbon. In doing so Ms. Howland became known as the “Mother of Valentine”

The industrial age of the 1900’s brought about the technology to print and mass produce cards that people could give in place of hand written notes. In today’s world it is estimated that 1 billion cards are sent each year at Valentine’s Day making it the second largest card sending holiday of the year, Christmas being the first.

Valentine's Day and Mother's day are the two biggest holiday for sending flowers, But Valentine's Day holds the number one spot for the holiday during which the most chocolate gifts and chocolate themed gift baskets are ordered. Roughly about 36 Million heart shaped boxes of chocolate alone will be purchased for Valentines Day. Now that's a lot of chocolate!


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