MA Residents: We Have Some Valentine’s Day History To Share With You
Today is February 14th, better known as St. Valentine’s Day when lovers express their affection to each other with greetings and gifts. Given their similarities, it has been suggested the holiday has origins from the Roman festival of Lupercalia which is held in mid-February. The festival celebrates the coming of spring, including fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. In one word; WOW! By the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius the First forbid the celebration of Lupercalia and is sometimes credited with replacing this milestone with St. Valentine’s Day, as the true origin of the holiday is vague at best. It wasn't until the 14th century that Valentine’s Day officially was designated as a day of romance.
Although there were several Christian martyrs named Valentine, the day may define another common legend stating the actual St. Valentine defied the emperor’s orders by secretly marrying couples to spare future husbands from war. It is for this reason that his feast day is associated with love.
Formal messages, or valentines, first appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used. The first commercial Valentines Day cards in the United States were printed back in the mid-1800s. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman God of Love, accompanied with hearts, which traditionally refers to the seat of emotion. Because it was also thought the avian mating season begins in mid-February, birds also became a symbol of the day. Traditional gifts include candy and flowers, particularly red roses, a symbol of beauty and love.