Gruesome reason why we give Valentine's Day cards to our loved ones
Valentine's Day has long been an opportunity to laud your loved ones with gifts and tell them how much you love them.
Surprising then, that it is a day borne out of death, war and torture.
Like many calendar celebrations in this country, the root of Valentine's Day is found in Christianity and specifically for one man unlucky in love, and life, St. Valentine.
The story of St Valentine has many different accounts, but they all meet the same gruesome end.
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One version is that St Valentine was a Roman priest who performed secret weddings to save the husbands from going to war, a rule that existed in the Roman Empire around 200-300 AD.
Another version says he was actually a Bishop in Terni, Italy, also attributed with officiating secret marriages.
Either way, in both versions St Valentine met a brutal end around 270 AD when he was executed for defying the emperor.
But before then he allegedly fell in love with his jailer's daughter and the night before his execution he is believed to have written her a letter that he signed, 'Your Valentine'.
Other accounts also say that Valentine cured the daughter of blindness and converted the whole family to Christianity before he was killed on February 14.
But the Valentine's Day tradition took a long time to become the day we know it as now.
It was not until the 5th century when Pope Gelasius supposedly wanted to oust the debauched festival of Lupercalia, celebrated on February 15, which is believed to have involved excessive merriment, animal sacrifices and random coupling up.
Pope Gelasius removed the festival and replaced it with far more wholesome affair to commemorate Valentine on the saint’s execution date.
But even at that time, Valentine's Day was thought of as a romantic day or a day to celebrate love.
That tradition did not emerge until around 1,000 years later in the 14th century in England and it is believed to have started with the famous poet and author Geoffrey Chaucer.
Historians believe that Chaucer’s poem The Parlement of Foules , which he wrote in 1380–90, is the first connection between Valentine's Day and celebrating love.
In the poem Chaucer wrote: “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate.”
It is believed the first love letters that referenced Valentine's Day began to emerge in the 14th century, after the poem was published.
Since then, Valentine's Day has evolved to include chocolates, roses, and even diamonds into its culture of displaying love for a significant other.
Valentine's Day has turned into a massive global industry, last year the UK spent around £855 million on cards and gifts.
Funny to think that it may have all begun with a man about to be executed.