Valentine's Day History: 5 Surprising Facts About The Origins Of The Romantic Holiday

Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day is a lot older than you think, discover 5 surprising facts about the history and origin of the holiday. Shutterstock.com

Valentine’s Day 2018 is right around the corner. It's time to order the roses, buy the chocolates and make the dinner reservations. But before you do, take a moment to think about where this now fully commercialized holiday began.

In fact, St. Valentine's Day began hundreds of years ago and made its way through Medieval Europe and England, Renaissance France and 18th century London. Let Latin Times break this serious history lesson down for you in 5 easy and truly surprising facts!

  1. Valentine’s Day originally had more to do with death than love. Valentine’s Day originated as a liturgical Christian celebration commemorating the martyrdom of Saint Valentine. The popular saint was supposedly imprisoned and then killed for performing weddings of soldiers who were forbidden to marry under a Christian service. According to legend, before his execution, he wrote a letter to his jailer's daughter who he had healed and signed it "Your Valentine."
  2. The Romans celebrated Valentine’s Day first! In Ancient Rome, the festival of Lupercalia was observed February 13-15 to celebrate the start of spring and the fertility of the earth. Although there is no direct link between this Pagan festival and the feast of St. Valentine, it is an interesting coincidence that this festival should predate what was to become the biggest celebration of love, romance and, let’s face it, sex, that the world has ever known by hundreds of years. 
  3. An English poet made the holiday romantic. It was medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer who first created a strong association between St. Valentine's Day and romance. In 1381, Chaucer wrote a poem in honor of the marriage of King Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia: "For this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate." This is the first recorded association between Valentine's Day and love or romance.
  4. A French court made the holiday popular. In 15th century Paris, Princess Isabel of Bavaria apparently established a "High Court of Love." It was founded on January 6th, the festivity of a Bavarian Saint Valentine. The court dealt playfully with romances, relationships and love. Judges were selected by women on the basis of a poetry reading. This was the first time that the romantic associations with the festival became widely popularized.
  5. Valentine’s Day card exchanges date back to the 18th Century. In 1797, a British publisher issued "The Young Man's Valentine Writer," a book containing sentimental verses and short poems for young lovers. Printers soon began printing cards with verses called "mechanical valentines," this is the first precursor to those lovely, automated Valentine’s Day e-cards.
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Maria G. Valdez

Maria was born and raised in Dominican Republic, where she began her career in journalism covering human interest stories, entertainment, beauty and wellness for a national magazine. She moved to New York City to study Musical Theatre, but went back to journalism after graduating in an attempt of becoming the Latina Carrie Bradshaw. She has an unhealthy obsession with JLo and claims to be Sofia Vergara’s long-lost daughter, and has tried a crazy amount of treatments to keep looking young. She became a Zumba instructor for fun.