The Little-Known Legend of Valentine's Day

Sunrise Senior Living  |  February 9, 2018

February is a month dedicated to matters of the heart: heart-healthy diets, living a heart-smart lifestyle, and celebrating happy hearts on Valentine’s Day. Many people are surprised to learn that Valentine’s Day is more than just a holiday created by the greeting card industry. In fact, its roots date back to the Romans. 

While there are many legends surrounding Valentine’s Day, the most popular one involves a romantic, kind-hearted priest and a foul Roman emperor.

The Legend of St. Valentine                                           

According to the legend, Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade young men from marrying. He believed marriage weakened soldiers. A certain Bishop Valentine, however, believed in the power of love and the institution of marriage. He bravely held secret marriage ceremonies in direct opposition to Claudius’ laws.

When the emperor learned what the bishop had done behind his back, he ordered the bishop to be arrested and imprisoned.

Once in prison, Valentine befriended his jailor, Asterius, and his beautiful daughter. Asterius’ daughter and Bishop Valentine developed a special bond. When a jailed Valentine still refused to stop hosting secret marriage ceremonies, Claudius ordered his execution.

When execution day arrived, Valentine penned a farewell message to Asterius’ daughter. He signed it, “From Your Valentine.” His execution day was Feb. 14, 270 A.D.

That is the legend of how Bishop Valentine became a patron saint.

Thankfully, today’s Valentine’s Day celebrations are much cheerier.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day

While the tradition of giving cards to symbolize love dates back to the Middle Ages, today’s celebrations are much more involved. We now honor the day with cards, flowers, jewelry, and chocolates. Many couples also become engaged or married on Valentine’s Day.

Americans spend a staggering $18.5 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts and festivities. A few more fun statistics that highlight how we celebrate this holiday include:

  • 25 percent of all greeting cards are sent in honor of Valentine’s Day for a combined total of 180 million cards.
  • $1 billion worth of chocolates and 189 million roses are sold.
  • 73 percent of people who buy flowers are men.
  • 14 percent of U.S. women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day.
  • 3 percent of pet owners buy their pet a Valentine.
  • Teachers receive the highest number of Valentine’s Day cards.

Watch out guys! There is one more statistic you need to be aware of: 53 percent of women say they would end their relationship if their partner didn’t give them a gift on Valentine’s Day.

Celebrating Holidays Big and Small

At Sunrise communities, we know how important it is to celebrate life’s holidays and milestones. But we also know how important it is to celebrate life every day.

Live With Purpose is one of our signature programs. It includes eight different ways to enrich your body, mind, and spirit. Learn more about our programming and activities here.