When is Valentine's Day?

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february 14
Valentine's Day is always on February 14
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You know when Valentine's Day is, now just don't forget it!

Holidays can be celebrated on specific day (the 4th Thursday of a month) or at a time determined by celestial events, like Solstice. Some holidays are determined by religious calendars or legislation. When is Valentine's Day? Like many holidays, Valentine’s Day is observed on the same day each year -- February 14th.

Most of us go along with it and send mushy cards and beautiful flowers and boxes of candies to our loved ones, not knowing too much about the history of this occasion and why we observe it at all.

Why do we celebrate on February 14?

Historians note that the day is in honor of Christian martyr, St. Valentine, who refused to tow the party line. He was put to death by Claudius the Cruel, otherwise known as Emperor Claudius II of Rome. The emperor was finding it difficult to get men to join his military regimes and he thought it was because the men didn’t want to leave their loved ones. Claudius decided to remedy this by outlawing all engagements and marriages in Rome. St. Valentine, who was a priest, didn’t go along with the plan and secretly married couples.

Of course, he was found out and put to death reportedly on February 14, 269 A.D.  The story goes that before being killed, St. Valentine left a good-bye note for the daughter of his jailer and signed it “From Your Valentine.”

In the United States, Miss Esther Howland is recognized for being the Mother of the American Valentine. She is the first person to send out Valentine cards. Miss Howland came from a family that operated a book and stationery store in Massachusetts. After receiving an ornate Valentine card from one of her family’s businesses associates she determined that she could make them herself.

Her father ordered her supplies, including lace paper, and she created several samples. Esther was amazed when the store received $5,000 in advanced sales. She eventually made $100,000 a year from her enterprise and this was in the late mid to late 1880s. That was a lot of money.

Essentially, Miss Howland transformed the way Americans expressed their feelings of love. Her legacy is that cherished relationships should be acknowledged. Her cards became the standard for love, romance and marriage proposals.

Valentines were actually created in Europe as early as the 16th century; however, they become more commonplace as the paper industry progressed and decorative paper became available in the 1700s. The paper Valentine is the result of the postal system and the accessibility of paper. Prior to these innovations, “Valentine” referred to your chosen one and a gift, other than a card, was given to that person.

Valentine cards can be darned fancy, featuring lace and elegant embellishments, silk, flower and jewels, and always have been. The American Valentine was greatly influenced by the Germans and their folk-art paper items called scherenschnitte and fraktur, which featured German imagery and writing. These Valentines were hand-made. Scherenschnitte is the art of paper cutting or scissor snipping. Fraktur is a kind of typeface. The black letter lines are angular and broken up.

When the Industrial Revolution arose in America, this led to mass production, which included mass production of Valentine’s Day cards. Machine made cards are nice but perhaps don’t have that certain personal touch that hand-made cards had. Of course, there is no reason that you have to buy a Valentine Card for your loved one. You can make one, which will be greatly appreciated.

So you now know when Valentine’s Day is, which in all probability you knew before unless you are living in a cave somewhere, and you also know why we celebrate it on that date. Couples schedule their nuptials for this day because it is the one day of the year when, universally, thoughts are on love, romance, hope and promise.

Resources: Valentine's Day Valentine's Day Explained

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