Valentine's Day originated as a Christian feast day honoring the early martyr, Saint Valentine and has become a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.

Valentine's Day Rose
Valentine's Day Rose - Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

by John Bagnasco

One story contains an account of the imprisonment of Saint Valentine of Rome for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire in the third century.

According to tradition, Saint Valentine wrote the jailer’s daughter a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution.

In the United States, the first mass-produced Valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828–1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts. Her inspiration was from an English Valentine she had received from a business associate of her father. Intrigued with the idea of making similar Valentines, Howland began her business by importing paper lace and floral decorations from England. A writer in Graham’s American Monthly observed in 1849, “Saint Valentine’s Day is becoming, nay it has become, a national holyday. Since 2001, the Greeting Card Association has been giving an annual “Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary”.

Roses are still the most popular flower on this day. According to Teleflora red roses are the most romantic, symbolizing passion and love. Pink roses can be given to a significant other or a platonic friend. White roses symbolize purity and innocence, so they are great for a new marriage, young girl, or as an addition to a bouquet. Yellow roses are a sign of friendship, so they’re great to get for someone who may be feeling lonely.