A Feast of Hearts for Valentine’s Day

This Sunday is Valentine’s Day and whether you are single, dating, married, or just taking advantage of day after reduced priced chocolate, this blog is for you!

The origin of Valentine’s Day is a mystery. Who was St. Valentine and how did he become associated with this holiday? Legend has it Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers, he outlawed marriage for younger men. Realizing this injustice, Valentine performed marriages in secret. Claudius II had both Valentine and bishop Saint Valentine of Terni, the actual namesake of the holiday, beheaded.

Other legends suggest that Valentine was killed for helping people escape harsh Roman prisons. Another mentions an imprisoned Valentine sending his first “valentine” to his lover, possibly the jailer’s daughter, after meeting with him in prison.

Others believe that Valentine’s day was celebrated as an effort to Christianize the pagan festival, Lupercalia, in honor of Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture.

Nonetheless, Valentine’s Day is the celebration of love and romance, where friends and couples share cards with heart shaped valentines and candies.

The article above, featured in February 8, 1913 Perth Amboy Evening News mentions favors that are still used today for Valentine’s Day parties. These include lace paper decorations, bouquet of flowers, and paper hearts. For treats, the article mentions heart shaped cakes, meringue cookies, and kisses. We can not forget party games and prizes!

After observing this image above, you may ask yourself how did Cupid become a popular Valentine’s Day symbol? The Roman God Cupid has his origins in Greek mythology as Eros, the Greek god of love who uses golden arrows to “capture” his lovers.

This article, featured in February 11, 1908 Morris Country Chronicle, mentions additional favors such as heart-shaped pasteboard boxes, candy boxes decorated with cupids or bow and arrows, and decorated baskets. The possibilities are endless!

Contributed by Kristi Chanda


History.com Editors. “History of Valentine’s Day.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 22 Dec. 2009, www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2.

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