Hey Friends! Jenna here. :)
Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day! We are exactly 1 week away from the “Holiday of Love” and what holiday would be more on brand for us to do a deep dive into? If you have read our blogs or listened to our podcast in the past, I am sure you know that we are obsessed with all things revolving around love, dating, proposals, weddings, etc. So it might surprise you that Valentine’s Day is actually not one of my favorites to celebrate in my personal life. I think that the holiday itself has strayed too far away from being a day to show your partner that you care about them. I personally think that it has gotten very commercialized, expensive and BUSY! There is so much pressure to book a reservation and buy flowers and the perfect gift. (As though we needed another day/celebration to buy a gift) And if you find yourself single during the holiday, it sucks!
So, Amanda and I did a deep dive. We decided to see where Valentine’s Day started and how it slowly became the booming holiday it is today.
Who is St. Valentine and why is he associated with love?
Short answer: St. Valentine is a famous Roman saint who is somehow associated with love, but not quite sure what he did.
According to History.com, there are a few stories that are rumored to have led him to becoming the father of love for more than 1,500 years.
One legend is thought that St. Valentine would authorize illegal marriages in Rome. The emperor at the time put a ban on marriages because he thought that it would distract the young soldiers that they needed to go off to war. St. Valentine eventually died standing for his cause.
Another legend says that St. Valentine helped christians escape Roman prisons. He was sentenced to death. While he was in prison waiting for his death sentence, he fell in love with a lovely lady. This lady could have been the jailer's daughter (scandalous). She would visit Valentine while in jail. Before his death, he wrote a final letter to her, signing it off “From your Valentine”.
Either way, good for you St. Valentine. You stuck it to the man in the name of love and we still celebrate you today!
How did February 14th come to be Valentine’s Day?
Some believe that February 14th was the day of St. Valentine’s death.
Others think that it came to be because of the pagan fertility festival, Lupercalia, that was celebrated on February 15th in ancient Rome. This was a festival dedicated to the ancient god of agriculture and celebrated some spicy ways that were acceptable at the time, but might not be appropriate subjects for our blog. (LOL)
How the holiday became the Valentine’s Day we know today.
February 14th was officially declared Valentine’s Day at the end of the 5th Century. However, at this time the holiday was about birds starting their mating season. It wasn’t until the middle ages until people started to associate the holiday with romance/love.
Love Letters & Flowers
According to History.com, the first actual Valentine sent was written in 1415 by a 21 year old Duke to his wife. He wrote a poem while he was in jail in the tower of London. One of the lines read “I’m already sick of love, my gentle valentine”.
By the 1700s, the US, Mexico, Canada, UK, France & Australia began celebrating Valentine’s Day as a “holiday of love”. Gifting flowers and hand written notes became very popular. By the 1840s, Valentine’s cards started getting mass produced. The holiday started being used for monetary gain, especially in America. Esther A Howland, also known as “The Mother of Valentine’s Day”, was the first woman to produce valentine’s with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures.
Today 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sold each year, JUST in the USA.
The all too well known Candy Hearts with messages were actually first developed by a pharmacist named Oliver Chase. They were originally created as a medical fruit lozenge. Chase built a machine to mass produce throat lozenges in quick quantities. This turned into him creating candies called Necco Wafers. In 1866, Oliver Chase’s brother, Daniel, started putting messages on these Necco Wafers. Some of these messages included, “married in white, you’ve chosen right” and “how long shall I have to wait, please be considerate” (Good Housekeeping)
Cupid, how the heck did you get here?
So, we all know cupid is very associated with Valentine’s Day at this point. But how and why did that get started? While everything discussed so far has come from Roman origins, cupid can be traced back to the Greek god, Eros. Once we hit the 19th century, cupid had a big link with Valentine’s Day. It makes sense.. Valentine's Day became associated with all things love and romance and Eros was the Greek god of love!
In 2022, $23.9 Billion was spent on Valentine’s Day in the US. According to an article on balancemoney.com, doing things at home to celebrate Valentine’s Day is not even in the top 5 ways people plan to spend the holiday anymore. Now, it seems that people enjoy giving experiences instead of items to their significant others.
All in all, I still think that Valentine’s Day has become too commercialized. I still think it puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on couples to find the perfect gift - as if that will express their love. However, I will admit, after learning about the history I have a new appreciation for the holiday!
So for what it is worth, Happy Valentine’s Day from the Scrooge of the holiday!
Let us know how YOU feel about the holiday and how you normally spend it. Does anyone have any fun or unique Valentine’s traditions? I want to know it all!
This Episode hosted by JENNA