Technically, it is St. Valentines Day. Valentine’s Day has three possible origins: Lupercalia, the death of Saint Valentine, and the mating habits of birds. In all likeness it is a blending of all three.
The Feast of Lupercalia, also known as Februata, was The Feast of Purification held on February 15th. Lupercalia was an ancient festival in honor of Lycaeus, who was the wolf mother of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. Februata Juno was the fertility goddess. Young men and women would pull names, then spend the day enjoying the company of the person whose names they pulled. They were allowed freedom to do whatever they wanted with each other. In an attempt to get rid of this pagan ritual, the Church in Rome began replacing the names of the citizens with the names of saints on February 14th.
Valentine’s Day is named for Saint Valentine or rather a Saint Valentine. The Catholic Church actually recognizes three different saints all named Valentine (or Valentinus), and all of whom were martyred. There are many myths and legends told of these saints, but nothing conclusive.
One St. Valentine is also known as Valentine of Terni and Valentine of Rome. He is the patron saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, epilepsy, against fainting, happy marriages, love, and plague.
Another Saint Valentine was believed to be beheaded on February 14th. Legend tells that during the times of the Roman Empire, Emperor Claudius II (known as Claudius the Cruel) stopped letting couples get married. He felt that their hearts belongs to him and the wars he waged and that love and marriage would only cloud their judgment. A priest named Valentine secretly married lovers. When he was caught, he was sentenced to death. While in prison awaiting his execution, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. In his final letter to her he signed, “From your Valentine”.
Another belief is that birds began to pair off and mate on February 14th. People began associating love and marriage with this date with the notion that “every bird chooses a mate this day”.
Today, Valentines Day beaus give their gals flowers, candy, cards, jewelry, or some other gift and gals buy that something special for their sweethearts. A candlelight dinner usually follows either homemade or at a romantic restaurant. Children and families celebrate too. Children make hearts and valentine crafts in school to bring to their moms and dads and the family might have a special dinner and celebrate the love that keeps them together.
The number of cards sent on Valentines Day places second only to Christmas-New Year cards. Card giving goes back to when English settlers first arrived in the United States. It was against the law to display affection in public. Giving cards to loved ones was a way of showing one’s affection without doing something “illegal” and avoiding public ridicule.
Fun Valentine Stats
24.6 pounds of candy per capita was consumed by Americans in 2003; it is believed a large portion is consumed around Valentines Day. Candy consumption has actually declined over the last few years; in 1997, each American gobbled up more than 27 pounds of candy a year.
The combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut roses in 2003 was $52 million for all operations in 36 states, with $100,000 or more in sales. Among all types of cut flowers, roses were second in receipts to lilies ($70 million).
There were 28,914 jewelry stores in the United States in 2002. In February 2004, these stores sold $2.4 billion worth of merchandise, a much higher total than in the preceding month or succeeding months.
stats from the U.S. Census Bureau
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