The History of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day – it happens every year, just creeping around the corner to find many overwhelmingly unprepared for the big day. Lovebirds race out in a quest for flowers, chocolates, jewelry and sweet cards. Business store fronts are decorated in reds and pinks, eager to catch the attention of shoppers.
But where did Valentine’s Day actually originate? And how has is modernized into purchasing jewelry and gifts?
The much celebrated day contains both Christian and Roman tradition. The Catholic Church recognizes three martyred Valentine or Valentinus saints. One legend has it that Valentine was a priest who served the church during the third century Rome. Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men when he decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret, as he saw it was an injustice of the decree. Valentine was ordered to be put to death once Claudius discovered his actions.
Other stories suggest Valentine was killed for attempting to help Christians escape the harsh torturing of Roman prisons. It is said, according to another legend, while Valentine was imprisoned he fell in love with a young girl – possibly his jailor’s daughter – who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, Valentine wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine,” an expression still used today as a signature in many cards.
Although the stories and truth behind the Valentine legends are murky, there is still the underlying emphasis on a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. Thanks to his reputation, Valentine became one of the most popular saints by the Middle Ages in England and France.
Some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated mid-February to commemorate Valentine’s death or burial anniversary – which probably occurred around A.D. 270. While others claim the Christian church placed his feast day in mid-February in an effort to "Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. February 15 was the Lupercalia fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity but was eventually outlawed by the 5th century by Pope Gelasius since it was deemed "un-Christian.” February 14 was declared Saint Valentine’s Day and would much later, during the Middle Ages, become definitively associated with love. In France and England, February 14 was commonly believed as the beginning of mating season for birds, which added to the idea mid-February should be a day of romance.
Nowadays, Valentine’s Day is not only celebrated in the United States, but also in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia.
Printed cards began to replace written letters in 1900, due to improvements in printing technology. Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making it the second largest card-sending holiday of the year (Christmas has an estimated 2.6 billion cards sent out).
Compared to chocolate, flowers and cards, jewelry holds the number one spot for total amount spent. According to ABC News "Jewelry is the most popular Valentine's Day gift: 20 percent of consumers are expected spend a total of $4.3 billion, the NRF said.”
The average number of wedding proposals on Valentine's Day each year is 220,000.
Whether you, or your Valentine are looking to "pop the question,” or just wanting something special, we have an array of jewelry, in an array of designs and price ranges! You can shop our collection online, or in our store Monday – Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. We look forward to making your Valentine’s Day the best yet!