Behind the Holiday: Valentine’s Day

“If I had a rose for every time I thought of you, I’d be picking roses for a lifetime.” — Swedish proverb

The Soul of the Rose by John William Waterhouse

Valentine’s Day originally began as a Christian holiday that honored multiple early saints named Valentinus, or Valentine.

According to one account, Saint Valentine of Rome was a priest who was imprisoned for ministering to fellow Christians, who were persecuted under the rule of the Roman Empire. During his imprisonment, Valentine was said to have miraculously healed the jailer’s blind daughter, who he later fell in love with. Before he was executed, he wrote her a farewell letter signed “Your Valentine.”

Valentine’s Day was first celebrated as a romantic holiday in 18th-century England, and lovers quickly adopted many of the traditions we still practice today; exchanging flowers, candy, and greeting cards that came to be known simply as “Valentines.”

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