A Brief History of Valentine's Day

Welcome back to the Liv Northgate Blog! Valentine’s Day is coming up, and images of Cupid are popping up in advertisements everywhere in Gilbert, Arizona. Traditionally the day for lovers, Valentine’s Day means different things to everyone. For some, it’s all about couples, and for others, it’s recognizing friends and family members with tokens of love. For kids, it’s often about getting the most valentine cards, yet for others, it is a reminder of being single.  Whatever your take on the date is, the actual history behind Valentine’s day is interesting, and we’re sharing some of it in today’s post.


Father Frank O’Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, shares the story of St. Valentine here. Tradition holds that the Roman Emperor,  Claudius II, had banned the men in his army from marrying, based on the idea that unmarried soldiers fought better (less distracted maybe?) because they weren’t worried about wives and families.  


Valentine was a priest and he secretly married couples, going against the Roman edict. Eventually, Claudius found out and had Valentine imprisoned. It is said he healed his jailer, Asterius’ blind daughter. After being imprisoned for some time, Valentine was sentenced to be executed. Tradition has it that his last words, written in a note to Asterius' daughter, was “from your Valentine,” which inspired generations of sweethearts to sign cards with that phrase.  


The oldest extant valentine is a part of the manuscript collection of the British Library (original text pictured). Dating from 1415, the missive was written by Charles, Duke of Orléans, to his wife while he was being held as a prisoner in the Tower of London after being wounded and captured at the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years War.  


Today, more than 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent, and 196 million roses are produced. Do you have yours? Are you planning on a romantic dinner at a Gilbert restaurant or a quiet evening at your apartment? Enjoying a fabulous Arizona sunset with your sweetheart? Treats for the kids? Ignoring the day? We’d love to hear about your Valentine’s Day plans. Feel free to share in the comments.

Liv Northgate Blog, Gilbert, AZ  Learn about the origins of Valentine's Day. From Saint Valentine to Charles, Duke of Orléans, we explain its origins.