Today it is a celebration of love, but it is also a huge commercial enterprise. It is the various greeting card companies' biggest moneymaker in the U.S. and other countries around the world. The chocolate makers count on Valentine's Day every year to carry them through to the next year.
I can remember when I was in the second or third grade that our teachers had us make Valentine cards for our mothers and at least one friend. I imagine that many of you did the same.
Hallmark Company printed and sold 114 million Valentine cards in 2019.
Chaucer and Shakespeare we are told made this day into a day for us to honor our loved ones.
However as with almost all days of celebration it did not start out very nice.
The day or days probably originated with the Romans. From Feb. 13, to the 15 it was known as the feast of Lupercalia (the hot Wolf). A dog or goat was sacrificed, then the green hides were used to whip women.
Everyone was naked and the young women were lined up and whipped with those hides. It was thought this would make them more fertile. Doesn't that make sense?
Then the names of the young women were placed in a jar and the men would draw a name and couple with the woman whose name they picked. Isn't that romantic?
Later under the Roman ruler, Emperor Claudius II, a fellow named Valentine was executed on Feb. 14 and then in the third century another fellow by the name of Valentine was executed. Later the Catholic Church honored at least one of those fellows' named Valentine with a celebration to be called St. Valentine's Day.
The Saint Valentine we celebrate is named for a priest who, under the reign of Emperor Flavius in Rome, favored the Christians by marrying them and conducting other religious rites. Flavius had him put to death for this.
Then in the fifth century another Pope, Gelasius I, combined St. Valentine's Day with Lupercalia in order to expel the pagan ritual. It actually turned into more of a drunken revel. But the Christians tried to make it more civil by proclaiming it a day of fertility and love.
Then came the Normans who celebrated Galatin's Day, the Lover of Women's Day, and combined it into Valentine's Day. This is where England's Chaucer and Shakespeare enter the picture in the 14 th century and the celebration grew nicer and sweeter with an exchange of handmade cards to your lover. Also flowers and confections now entered the picture and commerce took over and has never looked back.
In 1913 Hallmark Card Company in Kansas City, Missouri, took over with the mass production of Valentine greeting cards. They say without Valentine's Day that Hallmark could go out of business.
St. Valentine's Day is an official day now recognized by many Christian churches. It is celebrated all over the world, even in Muslim countries. However the Muslim clergy are attempting to ban the day, calling it a purely Christian Day.
If these Muslims would study their history they would discover that not only does this pre-date Christianity, but also their founder Muhammad who based part of his doctrine on the Hebrew Jesus. Old Muhammad must have been somewhat of a lover himself because he had eight wives (plus many concubines).
I don't know exactly how Feb. 14 became the fixed date because the calendar has been changed several times. The Eastern Orthodox Christian Church celebrates St. Valentine's Day on July 6. Remember they don't have a Pope to guide them.
Will you be someone's Valentine on Feb. 14 without the wolf, goat and dog hides? I think just a nice card will do.
Don't forget this is a Leap Year. If you were born on Feb. 29 you have a birthday only every four years. But the great part of being born on that date you don't age like us other mortals.