The History of Valentine’s Day


Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine.  But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday?  The history of Valentine’s Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery.  But we do know that February has long been a month of romance.  St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.  So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?  Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome.  When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers.  Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.  When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself.  While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement.  Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today.  Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure.  It’s no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England.

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About Doug Hill

Doug Hill is an Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, and founded The Hill Group with his wife, Kirsten in 2003. Combined, they have helped over 1,000+ clients buy and sell homes in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Doug holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management & Economics, and is a Navy veteran. He is an active member of the Southeast Valley Regional Association of Realtors on their Professional Standards Board, and he and his wife have had the #1 team for Coldwell Banker in Arizona for multiple years in a row. He loves to read, travel, and spend time with his family and friends.
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