DAA Daily

Facts about Valentine’s day

By Rufaro Zaranyika, Arts and Entertainment, The DAA PawPrint 

Here are some little-known facts about Valentine’s day. Some of these facts might be sort of expected, like how much Americans spend on the ideal Valentine’s Day present or when the first Valentine’s letter was written, but others are less common. In actuality, some of the early traditions connected to the festival were not at all romantic but rather centered on fertility and involved animal sacrifice.

1. St. Valentines wasn’t just one person
You may already be aware that St. Valentine is the patron saint of the occasion, but there is some debate as to which St. Valentine the celebration actually honors. The celebration may have been inspired by at least two people named Valentine, including one Valentine who served as a priest in third-century Rome. According to legend, this Valentine disobeyed Emperor Claudius II’s ban on marriage (he believed it distracted young troops), performing illegitimate marriages in the name of love until he was apprehended and given the death penalty.

According to a different narrative, Valentine really sent the first “valentine” letter when he was imprisoned, signing it “From your Valentine,” and was executed for attempting to aid Christians in escaping the Roman jail.

2. Valentine’s day has its roots in an ancient Pagan festival
While some historians hold the view that Valentine’s Day honors St. Valentine’s passing on February 14, others contend that the origins of the celebration lie in a Pagan fertility festival known as “Lupercalia” that was observed on February 15 in ancient Rome. Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and the Roman founding fathers Romulus and Remus were honored on this day, which was also marked by animal sacrifices and the smacking of women with animal hides in an effort to promote fertility.

3. In the 1300’s, it officially became a holiday associated with love
The date of February 14 was formally designated as “St. Valentine’s Day” by Roman Pope Gelasius around the end of the 5th century. However, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that the holiday came to be connected with love and romance. This tradition originated from the widespread misconception that birds began their breeding season on February 14 in France and England.

4. Cupid has its roots in Greek mythology
How did Cupid come to be a well-known Valentine’s Day symbol? He is the charming child who frequently carries a bow and arrow in Valentine’s Day holiday cards. According to Time, the origin of the saying may actually be traced back to the Greek god of love, Eros, who was a dashing immortal man with the terrifying ability to make people fall in love. Eros wasn’t transformed into the likeness of a cute little boy with a bow and arrow by the Romans until the fourth century BCE, when they gave him the name “Cupid.” Due to his ability to connect lovers by the turn of the 19th century, Cupid had come to be associated with Valentine’s Day.

5. Not until the 1840’s did we get the first mass produced valentines
It wasn’t until Esther A. Howland began selling her mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in the 1840s that people in the United States began sending handwritten letters and cards to friends and lovers. Howland, who is referred to as the “Mother of the American Valentine” and is famous for her elaborate, artistic cards created with lace and ribbons, is credited for popularizing Valentine’s Day cards in America.

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