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THE HISTORY OF VALENTINES DAY Every February, 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 !ay " and its #atron saint " is shrouded in mystery. But we do $now that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine s !ay, as we $now it today, contains vestiges of both %hristian and ancient &oman tradition. Legends 'ne legend contends that Valentine was a #riest who served during the third century in &ome. (hen Em#eror %laudius )) decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men "" his cro of #otential soldiers. Valentine, real!"!ng the in*ustice of the decree, de#!ed %laudius and continued to #erform marriages for young lovers in secret. (hen Valentine s actions were discovered, %laudius ordered that he be #ut to death. 'ther stories suggest that Valentine may have been $illed for atte$ t!ng to hel# %hristians esca#e harsh &oman #risons where they were often beaten and tortured. +ccording to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first valentine greeting himself. (hile in #rison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl "" who may have been his %a!lor 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 ex#ression that is still in use today. (hile some believe that Valentine s !ay is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine s death or burial "" which #robably occurred around ,-. +.!. "" others cla!$ that the %hristian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine s feast day in the middle of February in an e##ort to christiani/e celebrations of the #agan 0u#ercalia festival. )n ancient &ome, February was the official beginning of s#ring and was considered a time for #urification. 1ouses were ritually cleansed by swee !ng them out and then s r!n&l!ng salt and a ty#e of wheat called s#elt throughout their interiors. !uring the 2iddle +ges, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 34 was the beginning of birds $at!ng season, which added to the idea that the middle of February "" Valentine s !ay "" should be a day for romance. The oldest $nown valentine still in existence today was a #oem written by %harles, !u$e of 'rleans to his wife while he was im#risoned in the Tower of 0ondon following his ca#ture at the Battle of +gincourt. The greet!ng, which was written in 3435, is #art of the manuscri#t collection of the British 0ibrary in 0ondon, England. 'ele(rat!ons )n 6reat Britain, Valentine s !ay began to be #o#ularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small to&ens of affection or handwr!tten notes. By the end of the century, #rinted cards began to re lace written letters due to !$ ro)e$ents in #rinting technology. +mericans #robably began exchanging hand"made valentines in the early 3-..s. )n the 374.s, Esther +. 1owland began to sell the first mass"#roduced valentines in +merica. Accord!ng to the 6reeting %ard +ssociation, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, ma$ing Valentine s !ay the second largest card"sending holiday of the year. 8+n estimated ,.9 billion cards are sent for %hristmas.: +##roximately 75 #ercent of all valentines are urchased by women. )n addition to the ;nited States, Valentine s !ay is celebrated in %anada, 2exico, the ;nited <ingdom, France, and +ustralia. )n Bra/il, Dia dos Namorados 8boyfriend s or girlfriend s day: is celebrated on =une, 3,. >robably this day was chosen because it is the day before Saint +nthony s !ay, $nown as the marriage saint, when many single women #erform #o#ular rituals, !n order to find a good husband or a boyfriend.