From saints to cards, why St. Valentine?

Stephen Boyd-Morales

During the third century, Emperor Claudius II felt that single men made better soldiers. As a result, marriages for young men were outlawed.

It is believed that a priest named Valentine defied the law by secretly marrying young couples. Today, that priest is one of three Catholic martyrs who are now linked to the origins of Valentine’s Day.

According to author Dan Graves, Master of Studies of Law, another famous legend holds that while Valentine was in prison, he wrote a final letter to the daughter of a prison guard – and signed the letter with “from your Valentine.”

Historians believe that valentine letters were first exchanged sometime in the early 1700s. Ester Howland began mass-producing valentine cards in the early 1840s.

The Greeting Card Association estimates that Valentine’s Day is the second-most popular holiday for giving cards, after Christmas. Approximately a billion Valentine’s cards are sent each year.

St. Valentine is believed to have died in about 270 A.D., in the middle of February. Some believe that Valentine was killed after helping tortured Christians escape the Roman prisons.

Another theory is that St. Valentine’s Day was held in mid-February to coincide with Lupercalia, a pagan festival.

Whether it’s saints, chocolates or cards, for most, Valentine’s Day is about love.