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How Romantic

The meaning and truth behind the greeting card holiday

by Published: Feb 8, 2012

Valentine’s Day in America and Britain has long been associated with romance and lovers.

In the nineteenth century the fad of sending and receiving ‘Valentines’ became en-vogue. Since then, society waits patiently every year for that special day after Christmas and before Easter when gorging on chocolate and other tasty candies is justifiable. What seems to be forgotten is that St. Valentine was a real person.

Valentinus, or Valentine, was a priest in Rome during the reign of Claudius II. He and his partner Marius were both apprehended by the emperor and sentenced to death due to nonconformity. The pair ignored the direct order of the emperor by secretly marrying Christian couples, along with their refusal to renounce their faith. As punishment, Claudius had Valentine clubbed and beheaded. This sentence was carried out on Feb 14. How romantic.

The day surrounding Feb. 14 is slightly more significant that just a saint’s day as well. In the city of Rome, in accordance with their Pagan celebrations, Feb. 15 was a day of celebration and for a festival celebrating Lupercalia, the mother of Romulus and Remus. February was their official beginning of spring, and it may be no coincidence that our present day celebration of St. Valentine falls so closely to the ancient Pagan celebrations of Lupercalia. They are, as you can see, only 24 hours in difference, and that’s not all.

Lupercalia signified fertility, and traditionally the festival was held to honor the God Faunus (the Roman god of agriculture). In order to honor Lupercalia, priests would go to the cave where it was thought Romulus and Remus were born and sacrifice both a goat and a dog. The goat’s entrails and skin were then coated in the goat’s blood and used as paintbrushes to paint crops and women in hope for fertility in the coming year. I enjoy being covered in goat’s blood, it means he loves me. How romantic.

The further meaning(s) behind this day are effectually rubbed out by the over abundance of greeting cards, chocolate and flowers being spread around. According to the Greeting Card Association, over one billion cards are sent each year. This makes Valentine’s Day the second biggest card holiday after Christmas. This isn’t done by mistake.

In the late nineteenth century, when paper was easier to fabricate and distribute, greeting card companies noticed a dip in sales between Christmas and Easter. Thus, a holiday was created. You’ll notice the same thing was done for Sweetest Day in November. Commercialized love, how romantic.

If you receive a Valentine’s Day card, 999,999,999 other people received one as well. Not only that, the same report goes on to say that 85 percent of all cards are bought by women. What does that mean? Men really don’t care that much. I’m making an educated guess that the 15 percent of men who did buy something for Valentine’s Day did so on pain of death or lack of nookie. He got that card for you in the hopes of getting some action later on in the evening, and probably didn’t even read it before it was bought. How romantic.

Sources: history​.com and catholic​.org