Valentine’s Day’s overlooked history

Some love it, some hate it, but either way it is going to happen.  Feb. 14 marks the annual celebration of Valentine’s Day, also known as St. Valentine’s Day.

Culturally, this day has been called a “Hallmark holiday,” as it is believed to only exist for commercial purposes rather than to recognize a significant historical event.

However, according to the History Channel’s website, the holiday has a long tradition.

The idea of an annual offering to a loved one stems from an old pagan tradition in which men would preform an animal sacrifice, skin the beast and repeatedly slap the women with strips of meat.  This was thought to bring fertility to the villages.

Valentine’s Day got its modern name in the third century A.D., after Roman Emperor Claudius II forbid marriages to produce an army of emotionally detached soldiers.

Roman Saint Valentine, or Valentinus, secretly married couples despite the emperor’s restrictions.

St. Valentine was caught and sentenced to death, but prior to his execution, the couples he had married visited him in jail to give thanks for what he had done, giving him notes and flowers to show their appreciation.

Depending on the legend being told, those gifts are the inspiration for the modern tradition of gift giving on Feb. 14.

Another legend says that minutes before his execution on Feb. 14, 269 A.D., he wrote the young women a letter, signing it from, “Your Valentine,” inspiring the modern phrase of “Be my Valentine.”

According to, Americans exchange 151 million cards on Valentine’s Day.  It is estimated that 224 million red roses are grown specifically for this day.