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Valentine’s Day History and Facts for Kids

We all know that Valentine’s Day means either loneliness or love and jewelry, chocolates or flowers. But why do we celebrate the day with these symbols and gifts? Where did it all begin? The following covers the origins of the holiday (no, it was not invented by Hallmark), how it changed throughout it’s 1500 years of history and how it is celebrated all over the world.

1. When is Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day each year falls on February 14.

2. Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Today, Valentine’s Day is no longer celebrated to remember the Christian martyr(s), Saint Valentine. Instead, the holiday is celebrated to honor love and affection between lovers, and in some countries love and affection between friends as well.

3. Where did Valentine’s Day originate?

In ancient Rome in the 6th century AD. Roman Pope Gelasius observed Saint Valentine on the Roman Calendar of Saints.

4. When was Valentine’s Day established?

500 AD

5. Who is St. Valentine?

Saint Valentine could have been one person or could have been a number of martyrs in early Christianity. Whether it was one or many, the Saint Valentine that is commonly referenced in line with the holiday might have been a priest in ancient Rome, a bishop of Interamini (Italy) or a martyr living in Africa at the time of his death.

According to legend, St. Valentine was first mentioned in 1493. A script wrote of a man was martyred by Claudius Gothicus, the reigning emperor at the time (3rd century). According to the story, Claudius took pity on the Christian prisoner, who was imprisoned for his faith and beliefs. However, this pity ended when the priest attempted to convert Claudius, at which time the emperor condemned him to death, thus making him a martyr.

6. Who invented Valentine’s Day?

The original Valentine’s Day was brought about by a pop in the Middle Ages, Pop Gelasius. In 500 AD, he decided to celebrate and remember the martyr of a “Saint Valentine” (whose identity remains unknown). February 14 was the day on the Roman calendar of saint on which to remember Saint Valentine, but the holiday was not widely celebrated. The holiday began to be celebrated later on in history. However, when it began to be widely known among even non-Christians, it lost most of its religious affiliation, especially with the inclusion of Cupid (the pagan Roman god of desire, affection and erotic love), red hearts and other Valentine’s symbols.

7. Which countries celebrate Valentine’s Day?

United Kingdom and United States – send flowers, cards, chocolates and other gifts

Slovenia – St. Valentine’s Day signifies the first day of work in the vineyards and the fields. Birds propose to each other on that day

Romania – Dragobete is celebrated on February 24. The country has recently begun to also celebrate St. Valentine’s Day on February 14.

Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador – These countries celebrate Dia del Amor y la Amistad, the Day of Love and Friendship.

Guatemala – Dia del Carino, or Day of the Affection is celebrated around the same time as Valentine’s Day in the US.

Australia – celebrated in the western tradition

Finland – Celebrated Ystavanpaiva, or “Friend’s Day.” This holiday is less romantic and more symbolic of the love between friends.

Denmark and Norway – Valentinsdag is celebrated on February 14, and is largely modeled after the American holiday.

Sweden – Celebrates Alla Hjartans dag, or “All Hearts’ Day.” This day was largely brought about by flower, card and cosmetics industries to boost sales during one holiday each year.

Wales – Dydd Santes Dwynwen day is celebrated on January 25 (St. Dwynwen’s Day). He was the patron saint of Welsh Lovers.

Spain – San Valentin is celebrated similarly to the US traditions.

France – celebrates Saint Valentin, similarly to other western countries.

 South Korea, ChinaPhilippinesJapan – countries have begun to celebrate a holiday of love in a similar style to western countries.

India – Kamadev was celebrated in the Middle Ages, and served as a remembrance of the Lord of Love. Modern “Valentine’s Day” began to gain ground in Indian in the 1990s due to card and flower companies promoting the holiday.

8. Does Valentine’s Day have pagan origins?

No. Saint Valentine’s Day was originally instated by Pop Gelasius I. The holiday was in place from 500 AD until 1969, when Pope Paul VI decided that it was not necessary, however it is still allowed to be celebrated within the Catholic faith. Although the holiday today is largely celebrated on Pagan grounds, its origins were not Pagan.

9. What was the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre?

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre took place in 1929 in Chicago. The South Side mafia, led by notorious gangster, Al Capone, attacked the North Side Irish gang, led by Bugs Moran.

On February 14, 1929, seven individuals, five of whom were members of Bugs Moran’s North Side gang, were placed against the wall of a garage on North Clark Street by unknown individuals, and machine ginned to death. Those killed were named Peter Gusenberg, Frank Gusenberg, Albert Kachellek, Adam Heyes, Reinhard Schwimmer, Albert Weinshank and John May.

10. What do flowers say on Valentine’s Day?

Red Roses – Red roses signify love and romance. They are also symbolic of beauty, respect and courageousness. Their deep color signifies a seriousness in a relationship.

Pink Roses – Pink roses on the other hand can have different meanings. Deep pink roses symbolize gratitude, while light pink roses stand for fun and happiness. Pink roses are appropriate for new love, signifying the beginning of something good that intends to last.

White Roses: White roses symbolize purity, pure love and innocence. A combination of both red and white roses can symbolize a relationship that is deep and meaningful, honest, open and innocent.

Daisies – Daises are given to symbolize a fun but perhaps uncommitted love. They are a good flower for friends to give to other friends.

Carnations – Carnations are usually given as a symbol of trust within a relationship.

Other flowers and plants, and their meanings:
Sunflowers – “purity”
Peonies – “bashfulness and apologetic gestures”
Yellow Tulips – “hopeless love”
Orchid – “refined beauty”
Poppies – “wealth”
White Camelia – “Adorable infatuation”
Ambrosia – “this love goes both ways”
Acacia – “infatuation or platonic love”
Gardenia – “secret love”
Forget me Not – “faithful”