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Where Does Valentine's Day Come From?

The origins of Valentine’s Day are not entirely clear; however, it has been celebrated for a long time, and every year people around the world commemorate a day of love in different ways.

In ancient Rome, during the pagan feast of Lupercalia, dedicated to the Faunus, which took place annualy from 13 to 15 of February to celebrate the beginning of the Spring season, goats and dogs were sacrificed for promotion health and ferility. Men then used the hides of these animals to whip women, believing that being whipped by the hides would make them more fertile. Another part of the feast involved pairing off potential lovers. Women put their names into a jar, and would couple off with whoever picked their name out.
Another theory about Valentine’s Day relates to Christian martyrs named Valentine. In the year 496, Pope Gelasius I replaced the pagan celebration with the observance of a festival dedicated to love, following the biblical tradition, aimed at reproduction, and ideologically associating it with the protection of St. Valentine.
The modern merit of consecrating St. Valentine as the patron saint of love is attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of The Canterbury Tales, who wrote The Parliament of Fowls in the late 14th century. This poem was the first recorded example associating Cupid, and romantic love, with St. Valentine. It is believed that this also gave rise to the practice of exchanging messages of love and gifts among lovers.
In the 1500s, Valentine’s Day was officially recognized as a holiday in England. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, during the scene of Ophelia's madness (Act IV, Scene V), the maiden sings whimsically:

Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.

It was later introduced to the Americas by early settlers. In the late 1700s, printed cards, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, started to gain popularity, as is the case nowadays. In Switzerland, on the other hand, Valentine's Day has only been celebrated since 1949. The first edition was promoted by gardeners, and only later did other forms of gifts and celebrations become part of the Swiss Valentine's Day tradition.

Be inspired by our special Valentine's Day proposal here!
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