Pope Gelasius declared February 14 to be Saint Valentine's Day in 498 A.D. Valentine is the Latin word for "valor."
One legend of St. Valentine is that he was a priest in third century Rome. Emperor Claudius II had outlawed marriage because he believed single men made better warriors. Valentine, however, continued to perform marriages in secret. The emperor ordered that Valentine be put to death.
It is said that before he was put to death, Valentine sent a letter to the girl and signed it, "From Your Valentine," which is one possible source for the traditions of sending Valentine's cards or love letters.
Some sources say the Christian church decided to celebrate the feast of Valentine in an effort to 'Christianize' the celebrants of a pagan festival that was held in mid-February. This festival is called lupercalia, a purification and fertility rite.
Cupid is usually associated with Valentine's Day because if he shoots his arrow of love and hits you, you'll fall helplessly and madly in love with the next person you meet.
In Roman mythology, Cupid is the son of Venus, the goddess of love. In Greek mythology, he was known as Eros and was the son of Aphrodite. (Eros is the root word for erotic.)
The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is in in the book "Parlement of Foules" written by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1382:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
["For this was on St. Valentine's Day,
when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."]
Verona, a city in Italy that was the setting of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet every Valentine's Day.
This phenomenon was written about in the non-fiction book "Letters to Juliet" by Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman.
The book inspired a movie also titled "Letters to Juliet," starring Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Egan, Vanessa Redgrave, Gael García Bernal, and Franco Nero.
Roses are the de facto flower of romance. A Roman myth says that roses grew when Cupid was carrying nectar to the gods on Mt. Olympus. Cupid spilled the liquid and from that spot roses grew.
The "scalloped" shape of the now-familiar heart symbol/design was first recorded in the early 14th century. This symbol has been used on playing cards since the late 15th century.
What other fun facts about Valentine's Day do you know? Share in the Comments Section.