Valentine’s Day: How it started and became what it is today

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Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday to give greeting cards – nearly 150 million cards are exchanged each Valentine’s Day.

But why do we do it?

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Who is the “Valentine” in “Valentine’s Day?”

While the history is not pin-pointed to one specific person or incident, several legends offer similar accounts of Valentine being a kind-hearted or romantic man.

As one legend has it, Valentine was a priest in Rome who would perform illegal marriages, according to the History Channel’s website. During third century Rome, Emperor Claudis II ruled that young men were not to be married because he believed they made better soldiers than married men with families did.

Going against the emperor’s rule, Valentine would perform secret marriages. When he was found out, legend says that Claudius ordered him to be put to death.

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Another legend places Valentine in prison.  Valentine supposedly fell in love with his jailer’s daughter and sent her a “Valentine” greeting after she visited him in confinement. Legend has it that the letter was signed “From your Valentine;” the same expression many still use today.

Other accounts suggest Valentine was put to death after helping Christians escape from Roman prisons where they were beaten and tortured, the account says.

Why is it on February 14?

There are two potential reasons why Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14.

One reason may be to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death, according to the History Channel.

Others believe, however, that the Christian church placed the holiday in the middle of the month to supersede the celebration of Lupercalia.

Lupercalia was a Roman festival on February 15 where all the young women in the city would put their names in a lottery and the bachelors would each pick a name. The chosen woman would then be paired with the man for one year.  Many of these pairs would marry. The festival was done to promote purity and fertility.

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How much money do Americans spend on Valentine’s Day?

Experts expect Americans to spend nearly $20 billion for Valentine’s Day, including $680 million on our pets.

Residents in the northeast United States were expected to spend an average of $168.43 on the holiday in 2016.

$2 billion was expected to be spent on flowers; 14% of women reportedly send themselves flowers.

Click here to see all the wacky Valentine’s Day stats.