Legend says that Valentine’s Day originated during the third century in Rome. During this time, Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers, so he outlawed marriage for young men. A young priest named Valentine was furious with this injustice and defied Claudius by continuing to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. Claudius eventually discovered Valentine’s actions and sentenced him to death (not quite the fate of those who fail to buy their significant other flowers on Valentine’s Day, but clearly a lesson to be learned from history!
During his time in jail, Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter, who visited him in prison. Before he was put to death, Valentine sent a letter to the girl and signed it, “From Your Valentine”—an expression we still use today. Valentine was executed on February 14, 270 AD. Later, around 496 AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 a day to honor Valentine, who by that time had become a saint.
The History of Valentine’s Day Lives On
Today, we continue to honor St. Valentine and recall the history of Valentine’s Day each year on February 14 by celebrating our love for significant others, friends, and family. For thousands of years, the middle of February has been a time for fertility festival celebrations, so it is no wonder Valentine’s Day flowers are often the Valentine’s Day gift of choice around this time of year. For centuries, flowers have symbolized fertility, love, marriage, and romance.