When did it all start?
There are various theories on the origin of Valentine's Day, but the most popular dates back to the time of the Roman Empire during the reign of Claudius II, 270 A.D. Claudius didn't want men to marry during wartime because he believed single men made better soldiers. Bishop Valentine went against his wishes and performed secret wedding ceremonies. For this, Valentine was jailed and then executed by order of the Emperor on Feb. 14. While in jail, he wrote a love note to the jailor's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine." Sound familiar?
More Valentine's Day-related history
- The ancient Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia on Feb. 14 in honor of Juno, the queen of the Roman gods and goddesses. Juno was also the goddess of women and marriage.
- Many believe the X symbol became synonymous with the kiss in medieval times. People who couldn't write their names signed in front of a witness with an X. The X was then kissed to show their sincerity.
- Girls of medieval times ate bizarre foods on St. Valentine's Day to make them dream of their future spouse.
- In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who would be their Valentine. They would wear this name pinned onto their sleeves for one week for everyone to see. This was the origin of the expression "to wear your heart on your sleeve."
- In 1537, England's King Henry VII officially declared Feb. 14 the holiday of St. Valentine's Day.