Who was St. Valentine and why do we celebrate on February 14?

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Valentine's Day 2020: As the official day of love, Valentine's Day messages first started appearing in the 1500s. Cards followed by the late 1700s. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

Happy Valentine's Day 2020: Every year, Valentine's Day garners a lot of interest. While for some it is the celebration of love and all things beautiful, others see it as unnecessary. Nonetheless, the day receives a lot of attention. Over the years, however, it may have lost some of its relevance. Amid celebrations and exchange of gifts, it is important to look back at how this day came to be, and who is the person after whom it is named. Read on.


Valentine's Day is also known as Saint Valentine's Day. It is believed that the day has its origins in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, held around this time. On this day — which marked the coming of spring — fertility rites would be observed, along with a lottery-based pairing of men and women. Sometime around the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I replaced and renamed Lupercalia as St. Valentine’s Day. But only in the 14th century did the day come to find its association with all things love and romance.

Legends say that the day gets its name from a martyred Christian priest St. Valentine, who, it is believed, defied Roman Emperor Claudius II Gothicus' orders, and secretly married couples, so as to spare the men from war. Another account suggests that the same priest restored sight to a blind girl, the daughter of his jailer, and wrote her a letter signed "from your Valentine" before his execution.


As the official day of love, Valentine's Day messages first started appearing in the 1500s. Cards followed by the late 1700s. Today, it is celebrated in many countries, with great verve. Couples make elaborate plans to spend the day with each other, exchange gifts and greetings, and profess their feelings to each other. Commercially also, the day has come to hold significance, as many brands cash in on the opportunity and make decent sales.