There are lot of reasons why we celebrate holidays like Christmas each year. Is there a really a reason why we bother to celebrate Valentine’s Day each year? It’s already a rather commercialized holiday—that commercialism has morphed the meaning of the holiday into an entirely modern one. In other words, Valentine’s Day is simply a holiday where people give their special loved ones a token of their love and appreciation for their presence.
In the past, however, Valentine’s Day had a different face. Valentine’s Day was originally celebrated with facets of both Christian and ancient Roman traditions. The name of the holiday was originally attributed to a figure with the title Saint Valentine. Saint Valentine, however, is as mysterious as the main reason why we celebrate the holiday in the first place.
The Catholic Church actually recognizes around three different martyred saints with the title Valentine. The most well known Valentine, who may have been killed for helping Christians escape Roman prisons, sent a famous message with the signature ‘From your Valentine.’ This special signature is still used in many personal and commercial valentines. Although the exact identity of Saint Valentine is in question, Valentine ultimately appealed to many as a heroic, sympathetic and wholly romantic figure that inspired a lot of people throughout the years.
These traits are perhaps the reason why Valentine’s Day became more than just a February pagan festival commemorating the death and burial of this particular saint. This romanticism is essentially the lifeblood of the holiday, which in turn, inspires people to do good for their special loved ones and even the people that help complete their lives.
We now celebrate Valentine’s Day all over the world, spanning countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. The widespread popularity of the holiday started in the 17th century, continuing throughout the 18th century, when giving small commemorative gifts and/or cards became commonplace. The 1900s brought printed cards into fruition and replaced handwritten cards. From there, printed cards became an easier way for people to express themselves to their loved ones.
Despite the commercialism and the celebration of Saint Valentine’s life and death, we celebrate Valentine’s Day as an occasion to spend with loved ones. It’s one day our of our busy year that we dedicate to doing something truly special for that exceptional person. Thanks to that, we continue to use the inspiring spirit of Saint Valentine to celebrate the occasion.