The rumor that St. Valentine had stock in a greeting card company probably isn’t true, but the question remains: Who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday?
One legend says St. Valentine was a priest during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, ever the romantic, defied the order and continued to perform marriages in secret, but his actions were discovered, and Claudius ordered Valentine be put to death.
One legend actually credits Valentine with sending the first “valentine.” He is reported to have fallen in love, perhaps with his jailer’s daughter. The legend says that before his death he wrote her a letter, signing it “from your Valentine.”
Historians say Americans probably began exchanging handmade valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America.
According to the Greeting Card Association, Americans send about a billion valentine cards each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (No. 1 is Christmas, with about 2.6 billion cards.)
In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. Women buy about 85 percent of all valentines.
So, men, if you know what’s good for you, you haven’t forgotten the Valentine’s Day holiday. Stop buy the store on your way home from work, if you did forget. Buy a card and a gift for your sweetheart.
Chances are, she didn’t forget about you.