On February 14, Americans celebrate love and friendship by exchanging cards, flowers, and candy. Although the origins of Valentine’s Day are murky, ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, a spring festival, on the fifteenth of February.
The holiday has origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February. Celebrated the coming of spring, included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. It came to be celebrated as a day of romance from about the 14th century.
The first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s. In 1835, 60,000 Valentine cards were sent by post in the United Kingdom, despite postage being expensive. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman god of love, along with hearts, traditionally the seat of emotion. Traditional gifts include candy and flowers, particularly red roses, a symbol of beauty and love.
Valentine’s Day customs sending greeting cards (Valentine) offering flowers developed in early modern England and spread throughout the English-speaking world in the 19th century.
Valentine’s Day is known as Día de Los Enamorados (day of lovers) or as Día del Amor y la Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship) in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.
In the United States, about 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year.
Valentine is a unisex given name derived from the Roman family name Valentinus, which was derived from the Latin word Valens, which means “strong and healthy.”