Where Did Valentine’s Day Come From?

Chocolate hearts are popular Valentine's Day treats.

On February 14th, a lot of kids look forward to getting cards from friends – cards with a simple message:  “Will you be my Valentine?”

February 14th, of course, is Valentine’s Day.

But did you ever wonder why we celebrate it — and how it started?

It turns out that Valentine’s Day has a history that goes back more than 2,000 years.

According to historians, it has its roots in a Roman agricultural festival called the Feast of Lupercalia – a festival that was celebrated every year on February 14th, just as Valentine’s Day is today.

Around 500 A.D., a Roman Catholic Pope named Gelasius decided to replace the Feast of Lupercalia with a Christian festival.

So February 14th became a day to honor Saint Valentine.

According to several historical accounts, Saint Valentine had been thrown in prison several centuries earlier for disobeying a Roman emperor.

The legend says that while Saint Valentine was in prison, he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter – and sent her a note he signed, “From your Valentine.”

That’s supposedly where the tradition of sending Valentines began.

The Saint Valentine’s Day celebration eventually spread to France, England and other countries.

At first, people used to exchange handwritten notes with their Valentines.

But in the 1840′s, a woman named Esther Howland created the first commercially produced Valentine’s Day greeting cards in the United States.

Today, according to one account, more people send cards to friends around Valentine’s Day than on any other holiday except Christmas.

Chocolate, jewelry, flowers and other romantic gifts have also become associated with Valentine’s Day.

In fact, the people who keep track of chocolate sales say more than $1 billion worth of chocolate is sold around Valentine’s Day — along with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of flowers.

Valentine’s Day is no longer really a religious holiday.

It’s just a day to show your friends you appreciate them.

You don’t even have to buy anything.

A homemade card is just fine — so long as it says, “Be my Valentine.”