Valentine's Day or Saint Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14 by many people throughout the world. In the English-speaking countries, it is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other by sending Valentine's cards, presenting flowers, or offering confectionery. The holiday is named after two among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.
The day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines". Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The sending of Valentines was a fashion in nineteenth-century England, and, in 1847, Esther Howland developed a successful business in her Worcester, Massachusetts home with hand-made Valentine cards based on British models. The popularity of Valentine cards in 19th century America, where many Valentine cards are now general greeting cards rather than declarations of love, was a harbinger of the future commercialization of holidays in the United States.
The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, behind Christmas. The association estimates that, in the US, men spend on average twice as much money as women.
- 1 Saint Valentine
- 2 Attested traditions
- 3 Modern times
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome (Valentinus presb. m. Romae) and Valentine of Terni (Valentinus ep. Interamnensis m. Romae). Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who suffered martyrdom about 269 CE and was buried on the Via Flaminia. His relics are at the Church of Saint Praxed in Rome. and at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland.
Valentine of Terni became bishop of Interamna (modern Terni) about 197 CE and is said to have been killed during the persecution of Emperor Aurelian. He is also buried on the Via Flaminia, but in a different location than Valentine of Rome. His relics are at the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Terni (Basilica di San Valentino).
The Catholic Encyclopedia also speaks of a third saint named Valentine who was mentioned in early martyrologies under date of February 14. He was martyred in Africa with a number of companions, but nothing more is known about him.
No romantic elements are present in the original early medieval biographies of either of these martyrs. By the time a Saint Valentine became linked to romance in the fourteenth century, distinctions between Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni were utterly lost.
In the 1969 revision of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, the feastday of Saint Valentine on February 14 was removed from the General Roman Calendar and relegated to particular (local or even national) calendars for the following reason: "Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14." The feast day is still celebrated in Balzan (Malta) where relics of the saint are claimed to be found, and also throughout the world by Traditionalist Catholics who follow the older, pre-Vatican II calendar.
The Early Medieval acta of either Saint Valentine were excerpted by Bede and briefly expounded in Legenda Aurea. According to that version, St Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II in person. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and had a discussion with him, attempting to get him to convert to Roman paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead.He was executed as a result. Before his execution, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his jailer.
Legenda Aurea still providing no connections whatsoever with sentimental love, appropriate lore has been embroidered in modern times to portray Valentine as a priest who refused an unattested law attributed to Roman Emperor Claudius II, allegedly ordering that young men remain single. The Emperor supposedly did this to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers. The priest Valentine, however, secretly performed marriage ceremonies for young men. When Claudius found out about this, he had Valentine arrested and thrown in jail. In a widely repeated embellishment to The Golden Legend, before Valentine was to be executed, he wrote the first "valentine" himself, addressed to a young girl variously identified as his beloved, as the jailer's daughter whom he had befriended and healed, or both. It was a note that read "From your Valentine."
Though popular modern sources link unspecified Greco-Roman February holidays alleged to be devoted to fertility and love to St Valentine's Day, Professor Jack Oruch of the University of Kansas argued that prior to Chaucer, no links between the Saints named Valentinus and romantic love existed. In the ancient Athenian calendar the period between mid-January and mid-February was the month of Gamelion, dedicated to the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera.
In Ancient Rome, Lupercalia, observed February 13 through 15, was an archaic rite connected to fertility. Lupercalia was a festival local to the city of Rome. The more general Festival of Juno Februa, meaning "Juno the purifier "or "the chaste Juno," was celebrated on February 13-14. Pope Gelasius I (492-496) abolished Lupercalia. Some historians argue that Candlemas (then held on February 14, later moved to February 2) was promoted as its replacement, but this feast was already being celebrated in Jerusalem by AD 381.
It is a common opinion that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to Christianize celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia, and that a commemorative feast was established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, of those "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God," among whom was Valentine, was set for the useful day. Alternatively, William M. Green argues that the Catholic Church could not abolish the deeply rooted Lupercalia festival, so the church set aside a day to honor the Virgin Mary.
Chaucer's love birds
While some claim the first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer this may be the result of misinterpretation. Chaucer wrote:
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
This poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. A treaty providing for a marriage was signed on May 2, 1381. (When they were married eight months later, he was 13 or 14, and she was 14.)
Readers have uncritically assumed that Chaucer was referring to February 14 as Valentine's Day; however, mid-February is an unlikely time for birds to be mating in England. Henry Ansgar Kelly has pointed out that in the liturgical calendar, May 2 is the saints' day for Valentine of Genoa. This St. Valentine was an early bishop of Genoa who died around AD 307.
Chaucer's Parliament of Foules is set in a fictional context of an old tradition, but in fact there was no such tradition before Chaucer. The speculative explanation of sentimental customs, posing as historical fact, had their origins among eighteenth-century antiquaries, notably Alban Butler, the author of Butler's Lives of Saints, and have been perpetuated even by respectable modern scholars. Most notably, "the idea that Valentine's Day customs perpetuated those of the Roman Lupercalia has been accepted uncritically and repeated, in various forms, up to the present"
Medieval period and the English Renaissance
Using the language of the law courts for the rituals of courtly love, a "High Court of Love" was established in Paris on Valentine's Day in 1400. The court dealt with love contracts, betrayals, and violence against women. Judges were selected by women on the basis of a poetry reading. The earliest surviving valentine is a fifteenth-century rondeau written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his "valentined" wife, which commences.
Je suis desja d'amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…—Charles d'Orléans , Rondeau VI, lines 1–2 
At the time, the duke was being held in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt, 1415.
Valentine's Day is mentioned ruefully by Ophelia in Hamlet (1600-1601):
To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,
And dupp'd the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
William Shakespeare—Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5
In 1797, a British publisher issued The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which contained scores of suggested sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own. Printers had already begun producing a limited number of cards with verses and sketches, called “mechanical valentines,” and a reduction in postal rates in the next century ushered in the less personal but easier practice of mailing valentines. That, in turn, made it possible for the first time to exchange cards anonymously, which is taken as the reason for the sudden appearance of racy verse in an era otherwise prudishly Victorian.
Paper Valentines being so popular in England in early 1800s, Valentines began to be assembled in factories. Fancy Valentines were made with real lace and ribbons, with paper lace introduced in mid 1800's. The reinvention of Saint Valentine's Day in the 1840s has been traced by Leigh Eric Schmidt. As a writer in Graham's American Monthly observed in 1849, "Saint Valentine's Day... is becoming, nay it has become, a national holyday." In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828-1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father operated a large book and stationery store, but Howland took her inspiration from an English valentine she had received, so clearly the practice of sending Valentine's cards had existed in England before it became popular in North America. The English practice of sending Valentine's cards appears in Elizabeth Gaskell's Mr. Harrison's Confessions (published 1851). Since 2001, the Greeting Card Association has been giving an annual "Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary." The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association estimates that, in the US, men spend in average twice as much money as women.
Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The mid-nineteenth century Valentine's Day trade was a harbinger of further commercialized holidays in the United States to follow.
In the second half of the twentieth century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts in the United States, usually from a man to a woman.Such gifts typically include roses and chocolates packed in a red satin, heart-shaped box. In the 1980s, the diamond industry began to promote Valentine's Day as an occasion for giving jewelry. The day has come to be associated with a generic platonic greeting of "Happy Valentine's Day." As a joke, Valentine's Day is also referred to as "Singles Awareness Day." In some North American elementary schools, children decorate classrooms, exchange cards, and eat sweets. The greeting cards of these students often mention what they appreciate about each other.
The rise of Internet popularity at the turn of the millennium is creating new traditions. Millions of people use, every year, digital means of creating and sending Valentine's Day greeting messages such as e-cards, love coupons or printable greeting cards.
In the West
Valentine's Day has regional traditions in England. In Norfolk, a character called 'Jack' Valentine knocks on the rear door of houses leaving sweets and presents for children. Although he was leaving treats, many children were scared of this mystical person. In Wales, many people celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen (St Dwynwen's Day) on January 25 instead of or as well as St Valentine's Day. The day commemorates St Dwynwen, the patron saint of Welsh lovers. In France, a traditionally Catholic country, Valentine's Day is known simply as Saint Valentin, and is celebrated in much the same way as other western countries. In Spain Valentine's Day is known as San Valentín and is celebrated the same way as in the U.K, although in Catalonia it is largely superseded by similar festivities of rose and/or book giving on La Diada de Sant Jordi (Saint George's Day). In Portugal it's more commonly referred to as Dia dos Namorados (Boy/Girlfriend's Day).
In Denmark and Norway, Valentine's Day is known as Valentinsdag. It is not celebrated to a large extent, but many people take time to eat a romantic dinner with their partner, to send a card to a secret love or give a red rose to their loved one. In Sweden it is called Alla hjärtans dag ("All Hearts' Day") and was launched in the 1960s by the flower industry's commercial interests, and due to the influence of American culture. It is not an official holiday, but its celebration is recognized and sales of cosmetics and flowers for this holiday are only exceeded by those for Mother's Day.
In Finland Valentine's Day is called Ystävänpäivä which translates into "Friend's day". As the name indicates, this day is more about remembering all your friends, not only your loved ones. In Estonia Valentine's Day is called Sõbrapäev, which has a similar meaning.
In Slovenia, a proverb says that "St Valentine brings the keys of roots," so on February 14, plants and flowers start to grow. Valentine's Day has been celebrated as the day when the first work in the vineyards and in the fields commences. It is also said that birds propose to each other or marry on that day. Nevertheless, it has only recently been celebrated as the day of love. The day of love is traditionally March 12, Saint Gregory's day.
In Romania, the traditional holiday for lovers is Dragobete, which is celebrated on February 24. It is named after a character from Romanian folklore who was supposed to be the son of Baba Dochia. Part of his name is the word drag ("dear"), which can also be found in the word dragoste ("love"). In recent years, Romania has also started celebrating Valentine's Day, despite already having Dragobete as a traditional holiday. This has drawn backlash from many groups, reputable persons and institutions but also nationalist organizations like Noua Dreaptǎ, who condemn Valentine's Day for being superficial, commercialist and imported Western kitsch.
Valentine's Day is called Sevgililer Günü in Turkey, which translates into "Sweethearts' Day".
According to Jewish tradition the 15th day of the month of Av - Tu B'Av (usually late August) is the festival of love. In ancient times girls would wear white dresses and dance in the vineyards, where the boys would be waiting for them (Mishna Taanith end of Chapter 4). In modern Israeli culture this is a popular day to pronounce love, propose marriage and give gifts like cards or flowers.
Central and South America
In Guatemala and in El Salvador, Valentine's Day is known as "Día del Amor y la Amistad" (Day of Love and Friendship). Although it is similar to the United States' version in many ways, it is also common to see people do "acts of appreciation" for their friends.
In Brazil, the Dia dos Namorados (lit. "Day of the Enamored", or "Boyfriends'/Girlfriends' Day") is celebrated on June 12, when couples exchange gifts, chocolates, cards and flower bouquets. This day was chosen probably because it is the day before the Festa junina's Saint Anthony's day, known there as the marriage saint, when traditionally many single women perform popular rituals, called simpatias, in order to find a good husband or boyfriend. The February 14's Valentine's Day is not celebrated at all, mainly for cultural and commercial reasons, since it usually falls too little before or after Carnival, a major floating holiday in Brazil — long regarded as a holiday of sex and debauchery by many in the country — that can fall anywhere from early February to early March.
In Venezuela, in 2009, President Hugo Chavez said in a meeting to his supporters for the upcoming referendum vote on February 15, that "since on the 14th, there will be no time of doing nothing, nothing or next to nothing ... maybe a little kiss or something very superficial", he recommended people to celebrate a week of love after the referendum vote.
In most of South America the Día del amor y la amistad (lit. "Love and Friendship Day") and the Amigo secreto ("Secret friend") are quite popular and usually celebrated together on the 14 of February (one exception is Colombia, where it is celebrated every third Saturday of September). The latter consists of randomly assigning to each participant a recipient who is to be given an anonymous gift.
In Japan, in 1960, Morinaga, one of the biggest Japanese confectionery companies, originated the present custom that only women may give chocolates to men. In particular, office ladies will give chocolate to their co-workers. One month later, in March 14, there is White Day, created by the Japanese National Confectionery Industry Association as a "reply day", where men are expected to return the favour to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine's Day. Unlike western countries, gifts such as candies, flowers, or dinner dates are uncommon. It has become an obligation for many women to give chocolates to all male co-workers. A man's popularity can be measured for how many chocolate they receive on that day; the amount of chocolate received is a touchy issue for men, and they will only comment on it after getting assurances that the amount will not be made public. This is known as giri-choko (義理チョコ), from the words giri ("obligation") and choko, ("chocolate"), with unpopular co-workers receiving only "ultra-obligatory" chō-giri choko cheap chocolate. This contrasts with honmei-choko (本命チョコ, Favorite chocolate); chocolate given to a loved one. Friends, especially girls, may exchange chocolate referred to as tomo-choko (友チョコ); from tomo meaning "friend".
In South Korea, women give chocolate to men on February 14, and men give non-chocolate candy to women on March 14 (White Day). On April 14 (Black Day), those who did not receive anything on the 14th of February or March go to a Chinese restaurant to eat black noodles and "mourn" their single life. Koreans also celebrate Pepero Day on November 11, when young couples give each other Pepero cookies. The date '11/11' is intended to resemble the long shape of the cookie. The 14th of every month marks a love-related day in Korea, although most of them are obscure. From January to December: Candle Day, Valentine's Day, White Day, Black Day, Rose Day, Kiss Day, Silver Day, Green Day, Music Day, Wine Day, Movie Day, and Hug Day.
In China, the common situation is the man gives chocolate, flowers or both to the woman that he loves.
In the Philippines, Valentine's Day is called Araw ng mga Puso or "Hearts Day". It is usually marked by a steep increase in the prices of flowers.
Similar Asian traditions
In Chinese culture, there is an older observance related to lovers, called "The Night of Sevens". According to the legend, the Cowherd star and the Weaver Maid star are normally separated by the milky way (silvery river) but are allowed to meet by crossing it on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese calendar.
In Japan, a slightly different version of "The Night of Sevens" (called Tanabata, which is said to mean a weaver for a god) is celebrated, on July 7 on the Gregorian calendar.It is never regarded that the celebration is even remotely related to St. Valentine's Day or lovers giving gifts to each other.
In India, in the past Valentine's Day has been explicitly discouraged by some of the Hindu fundamentalists. Since 2001 there has been each year violent clashes between shopkeepers dealing in Valentine related items and Shiv Sena die-hards, who oppose it as "cultural pollution from the west". Especially in Mumbai and surrounding areas Bal Thackeray and others sent out signals before the day warning people not to have anything to do with Valentine. Those who violate this are dealt with harshly by baton-holding brigands of Shiv Sena who lurk in public places especially parks, chasing young people holding hands and others suspected to be lovers. In many parts of south India couples who are found in parks and other public places are immediately forced to marry on the spot by the Shiv Sena and other similar activists.
The Middle East
Lebanese people send roses, cards, and balloons on Valentine's Day to each other. Many couples go out on a romantic dinner. Shops are decorated with a lot of red items. Several shops remain open until midnight.
In Saudi Arabia, in 2002 and 2008, religious police banned the sale of all Valentine's Day items, telling shop workers to remove any red items, as the day is considered a non-Islamic holiday. In 2008 this ban created a black market in roses and wrapping paper.
- Leigh Eric Schmidt, "The Fashioning of a Modern Holiday: St. Valentine's Day, 1840-1870" Winterthur Portfolio 28.4 (Winter 1993), pp. 209-245.
- Leigh Eric Schmidt, "The Commercialization of the calendar: American holidays and the culture of consumption, 1870-1930" Journal of American History 78.3 (December 1991) pp 890-98.
- "American Greetings: The business of Valentine's day". http://pressroom.americangreetings.com/archives/val08/valbiz08.html.
- Henry Ansgar Kelly, in Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine (Leiden: Brill) 1986, accounts for these and further local Saints Valentine (Ch. 6 "The Genoese Saint Valentine and the observances of May") in arguring that Chaucer had an established tradition in mind, and (pp 79ff) linking the Valentine in question to Valentine, first bishop of Genoa, the only Saint Valentine honoured with a feast in springtime, the season indicated by Chaucer. Valentine of Genoa was treated by Jacobus of Verazze in his Chronicle of Genoa (Kelly p. 85).
- Oxford Dictionary of Saints, s.v. "Valentine": "The Acts of both are unreliable, and the Bollandists assert that these two Valentines were in fact one and the same."
- "Valentine of Rome". http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintv06.htm.
- "Saint Valentine's Day: Legend of the Saint". http://www.novareinna.com/festive/saintval.html.
- "Valentine of Terni". http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintv90.htm.
- "Basilica of Saint Valentine in Terni". http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/Exhibitions/Valentin/English/6/622.php3.
- "Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Valentine". http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15254a.htm.
- The present Roman Martyrology records, at February 14, "In Rome, on the Via Flaminia near the Milvian Bridge: St. Valentine, martyr."
- Calendarium Romanum ex Decreto Sacrosancti Œcumenici Concilii Vaticani II Instauratum Auctoritate Pauli PP. VI Promulgatum (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, MCMLXIX), p. 117
- Legenda Aurea, "Saint Valentine".
- "The History of Valentine's Day". History.com. http://www.history.com/minisite.do?content_type=Minisite_Generic&content_type_id=882&display_order=1&sub_display_order=1&mini_id=1084.
- History of Valentine's day, TheHolidaySpot.com
- Jack B. Oruch, "St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February" Speculum 56.3 (July 1981:534-565)
- William M. Green "The Lupercalia in the Fifth Century", Classical Philology 26.1 (Jan. 1931), pp 60‑69 pp60‑69
- Oruch, Jack B., "St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February," Speculum, 56 (1981): 534-65. Oruch's survey of the literature finds no association between Valentine and romance prior to Chaucer. He concludes that Chaucer is likely to be "the original mythmaker in this instance."
- "Henry Ansgar Kelly, Valentine's Day / UCLA Spotlight". http://spotlight.ucla.edu/faculty/henry-kelly_valentine/.
- "Chaucer: The Parliament of Fowls". http://www.wsu.edu/~delahoyd/chaucer/PF.html.
- Kelly, Henry Ansgar, Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine (Brill Academic Publishers, 1997), ISBN 90-04-07849-5. Kelly gives the saint's day of the Genoese Valentine as May 3 and also claims that Richard's engagement was announced on this day. 
- Calendar of the Saints: 2 May; Saint Patrick's Church: Saints of May 2
- Oruch 1981:539.
- Domestic Violence, Discourses of Romantic Love, and Complex Personhood in the Law -  MULR 8; (1999) 23 Melbourne University Law Review 211
- "Court of Love: Valentine's Day, 1400". http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/Exhibitions/Valentin/English/4/422.php3.
- Full text on Wikisource
- History Channel.
- Schmidt 1993:209-245.
- Quoted in Schmidt 1993:209.
- Valentine`s Day versus Dragobete (Romanian)
- "Día del Amor y la Amistad". http://www.contactomagazine.com/sanvalentin0203.htm.
- The Psychology of Carnaval, TIME Magazine, February 14, 1969
- Video of Chavez joking about Valentine's day, youtube.com, 2009-01-31
- Domingo, Ronnel. Among Asians, Filipinos dig Valentine's Day the most. Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 14, 2008. Retrieved 21 February 2008.
- Yuko Ogasawara (1998). University of California Press. ed. Office Ladies and Salaried Men: Power, Gender, and Work in Japanese Companies (illustrated ed.). Berkeley: Univ. of California Press. pp. 98–113, 142–154, 156, 163. ISBN 0520210441. http://books.google.com/books?id=9_yjfAZo4jIC&pg=PA98&vq=valentine+day&dq=japan+chocolate+saint+valentin&lr=&client=opera&hl=es&source=gbs_search_s&cad=0.
- Korea rivals U.S. in romantic holidays, Centre Daily Times, February 14, 2009.
- Arkadev Ghoshal & Hemangi Keneka (14 February 2009). "V-Day turns into battlefield". Times of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Nagpur/V-Day_turns_into_battlefield/articleshow/4127811.cms.
- "Cooling the ardour of Valentine's Day". BBC News. 3 February 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1818642.stm.
- A man holding a banner in Mumbai on Valentine's Day protesting the holiday
- "While Muslim culture doesn't exactly embrace Cupid, Valentine's Day is gaining traction in Iran with the younger, more Westernized crowd, says Iranian-American filmmaker Shaghayegh Azimi, who has captured some of the romance in her movies. Increasingly, stores decorate windows with stuffed animals, heart-shaped chocolates and red balloons, and teenagers show their affection by holding hands in the streets of Tehran." Melanie Lindner Valentine's Day Around The World February 11, 2009 Forbes 
- "Saudis clamp down on valentines". BBC News. 11 February 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7239005.stm.
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