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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Valentine’s Day

    February 14th — a day of romance, sweetness, chocolate and affection where love, be it old or new, is celebrated. But how did this highly commercialized day o’love start?

    There are three legends explored by History.com that all paint the mysterious St. Valentine as a sympathetic, heroic and romantic figure.

    According to one legend, St. Valentine was a Roman priest in the third century who performed marriage ceremonies for young lovers in a time where the Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men.

    When the Emperor found out about the secret marriages, he ordered that St. Valentine be put to death, creating the image of St. Valentine — the martyr of love.

    Another legend suggests that the church hold St. Valentine sacred because he helped Christians escape Roman imprisonment.

    The most commercially spread story of St. Valentine attests that while in prison, he fell in love with his jailor’s daughter. Before his death Valentine sent the girl a letter signed, “From Your Valentine,” a line usually copied onto heart-shaped cards every February 14th.

    The least romantic historical account of Valentine’s Day claims that the Christian church celebrated the feast of St. Valentine in the middle of February in order to ‘Christianize’ the pagan Lupercalia festival. Lupercalia was a fertility festival for Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and the wolves Romulus and Remus. This pagan holiday usually took place on February 15th.

    Valentine’s Day was more celebrated around the 17th century in Great Britain, where courtly romance was the norm and it was common for lovers to exchange tokens of action and handwritten notes.

    This practice spread to the United States in the early 1700’s and in the 1840’s Esther A. Howland, the Mother of the Valentine, began mass producing valentine cards.

    An estimated one billion cards are sent each year according to the Greeting Card Association, making St. Valentine’s Day one of the largest card-sending holidays of the year, second only to Christmas.

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