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The History Of Valentine's Day

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 02/14/11 12:34 PM ET Updated: 11/17/11 09:02 AM ET

Valentine S Day History

Valentine's day isn't all about roses, candy, and expensive dinners.

It has a historical background too.

Contrary to what some may believe, Valentine's Day wasn't created by greetings card companies just to sell cards and candies. It's actually a church sanctioned holiday, as Pope Gelasius deemed February 14 St. Valentine's Day near 498 A.D.

Shrouded in mystery, the exact origins of the celebration of St. Valentine are somewhat unclear, according to History.com. While the holiday's history is well documented through the years, the saint (or saints) it's named after is up in the air.

It's still unclear exactly who the celebrated saint of love really was, as the Catholic Church acknowledges 3 separate saints named Valentine or Valentinus. All of them were martyrs.

From History.com:

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today.

The oldest know Valentine's poem in existence today was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans during his imprisonment in the Tower of London, following the Battle of Agincourt, according to History.com. The poem was written to his wife.

The holiday continued to gain tremendous popularity through the 17th and 18th centuries, but saw tremendous popularity in more recent times, with faster communication. It wasn't until the 1840s that Valentine's day cards began to be produced.

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