Valentine’s Day is more than just giving flowers, jewelry and candy to someone.
The holiday is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD. It has a meaning that is truly centered in self sacrifice.
The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day undoubtedly have their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, the birds began to pair. The sending of Valentines was a fashion in nineteenth-century Great Britain, and, in 1847, Esther Howland developed a successful business in her Worcester, Massachusetts home with hand-made Valentine cards based on British note cards.
This is the reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens. Both the French and English literatures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries show this being done.
The earliest tradition is in the 34th and 35th Ballades of the bilingual poet, John Gower, written in French. Those who chose each other under these circumstances seem to have been called by each other their Valentines.
At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under date of 14 February. One is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna, and these two seem both to have suffered in the second half of the third century and to have been buried on the Flaminian Way, but at different distances from the city. In William of Malmesbury’s time what was known to the ancients as the Flaminian Gate of Rome and is now the Porta Del Popolo, was called the Gate of St. Valentine. The name seems to have been taken from a small church dedicated to the saint which was in the immediate neighborhood. The third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions, nothing further is known.
Happy Valentine’s Day.