Valentines Day 2024

14 February 2024
All States    Not a holiday

Across many parts of the world on February 14th, many flowers, cards, and gifts will be exchanged between loved ones, as St. Valentines day is celebrated. The traditions of St. Valentines Day mix elements of both ancient Roman rites and Christian tradition. To confuse matters, three different saints named Valentine are recognised by the Catholic Church. Valentine may not be the luckiest of names, as all three of the saints are martyrs.

One legend tells us that Valentine was a priest in Rome during the third century. Emperor Claudius II decreed that marriage was to be outlawed for young men, as he thought that single men made better soldiers than those who were married with families.

Valentine felt the decree was unjust and unfair and he defied the Emperor by performing secret marriages for young lovers. When his actions for undercover lovers were discovered, Claudius ordered Valentine to be executed. Variations on this legend say that Valentine was put to death for trying to help fellow Christians escape from harsh Roman prisons where they were often tortured.

According to another legend, Valentine may have actually sent the first valentine greeting himself in 270 AD the day before he was to be executed for refusing to renounce his Christian beliefs. Allegedly he sent a note of appreciation to his jailers blind daughter for bringing him food and delivering messages while he was imprisoned, signed "from your Valentine.”

Americans probably first began exchanging handmade valentines with verses in the early 1700s. In the mid-nineteenth century, the first mass-produced valentines began to go on sale in America. Miss Esther Howland, an artist, and entrepreneur, became the first regular publisher of valentines in the USA. Often referred to as the Mother of the Valentine, Miss Howland designed many elaborate creations using lace, ribbons and colourful pictures known as "scrap". Her cards usually cost between $5 - $10 each, with some as much as $35, astonishingly expensive for the time.