In two weeks an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards will be sent out to loved ones across the world, but how and when did this beautiful tradition begin?
During the third century in Rome the Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage among young men because he believed that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. St. Valentine was a priest that was jailed and martyred for continuing to marry young lovers in secret despite the Emperor's decree.
At the end of the 5th century Pope Gelasius I replaced the Roman festival of Lupercalia with St. Valentine's Day. The Lupercalia festival, which was held in mid-February, celebrated the coming of spring with fertility rituals and the pairing of single women and men via a lottery. The day later became a celebration of romance sometime around the 14th century with the oldest recorded Valentine poem being written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife.