Why Do We Celebrate St Valentines Day?

St Valentines Day

The History Of Saint Valentine Day

Valentines Day is celebrated on the 14th February and commemorates the death of St Valentine.

In the year 498 Pope Gelasius made February the 14th Valentines Day. It is also thought that the early Christian church may have been the originators of Valentines Day because they wanted a Christian festival celebration in February to stop people celebrating the pagan Roman festival of Lupercalia. This celebrated the beginning of spring which ancient Romans saw as a time for new beginnings and purification. As part of the celebrations houses would be spring cleaned and offerings would be given to Faunus the God of fertility and agriculture, and to Romulus and Remus who were the founders of Rome.

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The 14th February was also seen as a day of romance because it was the day when birds would begin their mating season. It was thought that a girl or young woman could tell the occupation of her future husband from the first bird she saw on Valentine's Day. If she saw a blackbird first she was destined to marry a Clergyman. If it was a robin she would wed a sailor, a goldfinch would see her marry a rich man, a blue tit meant she would marry a happy man and if it was a dove she would marry a good man. Women who saw a woodpecker were destined to never marry or find a man at all.

It took several Centuries before Valentines Day became commonly celebrated and the first recorded Valentine Card was sent.

During the 17th and 18th Century in the UK handwritten letters and notes of love were exchanged, sometimes with gifts.

A Century later saw the first commercially produced Valentines Day greeting cards. This was in America by Esther A. Howland in 1840. They were made out of ribbons and lace with colour pictures.

As postage costs reduced and postal services and printing processes improved Valentines Day was celebrated more and more by all classes.

More St Valentine trivia questions.

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