If music be the food of love, play on

February 14th, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved
ones all in the name of St. Valentine. Although February has long been
associated with romance, the real history of St. Valentine’s Day is unknown.
Today’s Valentine’s Day celebration contain parts of both Christian and ancient
Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated
with a romantic holiday?

One legend contends that Valentine was a third-century Roman
priest. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers
than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Father
Valentine, realizing the injustice of the law, defied Claudius and continued to
perform secret marriages for young lovers. When his defiance was discovered,
Claudius ordered Father Valentine executed.

St. Valentine’s Day was mentioned by Shakespeare. The poet, Drayton, wrote
verses entitled “To His Valentine,” in which he expressed the idea of
the birds’ mating on St. Valentine’s Day.

Each little bird this tide
Doth choose her beloved peer,
Which constantly abide
In wedlock all the year.

According to yet
another story, Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” while in
prison. It is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl (his
jailor’s daughter) who visited him during his imprisonment. Before his death,
it is said that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’
an expression still used today.

The first Valentine
grew out of this practice. The first true Valentine
was sent in 1415 by Charles, duke of Orleans, to his wife. He was imprisoned in
the Tower of London at the time. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem
written by Charles,

According to the
Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent
each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of
the year after Christmas.

Approximately 85
percent of all valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United
States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom,
France, and Australia.

After all,
Valentine’s Day only comes once each year – but the love, passion and romance
can be enjoyed every day. May we all love and be loved!