Good Question: Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?
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I can’t do this anymore. This feels so contrived.
Valentine’s Day is here again. It’s the day when all men have to do something for that special someone in their life for no logical reason other than it’s an official holiday on the calendar and our culture tells us we have to.
I thought we would explore that for this week’s Good Question.
First of all, Here are a few facts:
- Eighty-five percent of people who give valentines on Valentine’s Day are women, according to CBS News.
- Hallmark reports Valentine’s Day is the second-largest card sending holiday of the year, after Christmas.
- The first American to mass produce Valentine greeting cards was Esther Howland.
- The tradition of exchanging Valentines began in the 1600s.
The beginnings of Valentine’s Day, however, go back much further. It started with a man named Valentine.
How did Valentine’s Day begin?
Valentine was a third century Roman priest who would secretly perform marriages for couples (or possibly more than one priest). You see, the reigning emperor at the time outlawed marriage.
The emperor wanted single men to be soldiers in his army. If they were married, he figured the men would be distracted.
Eventually, Valentine’s secret marriage ceremonies were discovered. The emperor sentenced him to death and put him in jail.
While in jail, Valentine fell in love with a woman who happened to be his jailor’s daughter. She would visit him on a regular basis. She would send him love letters.
Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Prior to his death, Valentine had written a letter to this woman affectionately signed, “From Your Valentine.” This greeting would forever establish him as one of the most romantic figures in history, which is why Valentine’s Day is a day of romance.
Christians would later name Valentine a saint.
The fact that Valentine’s day falls on February 14 is also significant. It happens to be the day Valentine was executed. It was also the date of an old Pagan fertility festival, in which a group of priests would get together and sacrifice a goat.
In case you didn’t know, a goat was believed to symbolize fertility.
The Roman priests would take the hide of the goat, shave it into small strips and slap their women around with them. (No joke!)
The women considered this a special honor because it meant the following year would be more fertile for them.
And as we all know, nothing says I love you like a good slap across the face. On that note, Happy Valentine’s Day.