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What is the History of Valentine's Day?

Valentine's Day may sometimes seem to have been around forever, but just when did this holiday start and why? Valentine's Day history is actually somewhat of a mystery, but here's what we do know.

The day was named for a man named Saint Valentine who later became the patron saint of Valentine's Day. It's a day that has its origins in both ancient Roman tradition and Christianity. St. Valentine, legend tells us, was a priest in Rome during the third century. This was during the time when Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men in an effort to make them better soldiers. Valentine protested this and continued to perform these outlawed marriages in secret. For this he was sentenced to death by Claudius.

Legend also tells us that Valentine was the first to send a "Valentine" to a girl who visited him regularly in prison and with whom he fell in love. The letter was signed "your Valentine" - a line that is still used to sign many Valentine's Day cards today.

Some people believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14 because that is the day that Valentine actually died, but no one knows this for certain. It is more likely that the day was appropriated by Christians from the Romans as a Christian holiday in the same manner Christmas was adopted.

Currently, the oldest surviving Valentine in Valentine's Day history was written by the Duke of Orleans, Charles, to his wife during his imprisonment in the Tower of London.

Over the centuries, Valentine's Day has grown in popularity and today over 1 billion Valentine's Day cards are exchanged each year in the USA, France, UK, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and many other countries.

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