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: his​tory​.com and catholic​.org