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This Day in History

World History

Tuesday, February 14, 0496. :   St Valentine's Day is first declared.

     Valentine's Day falls on February 14 each year, and is the traditional day on which lovers in some cultures declare their love by sending Valentine's cards, which are often anonymous. Valentine's Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year after Christmas. St Valentine himself is believed to have been Valentinius, a candidate for Bishop of Rome in 143. In his teachings, the marriage bed assumed a central place in his version of Christian love, which contrasted sharply with the asceticism of mainstream Christianity.

The feast of St. Valentine was first declared by Pope Gelasius I to be on 14 February 496. In Ancient Rome, the day of February 15 was Lupercalia, the festival of Lupercus, the god of fertility, but there was initially no connection between romantic love and the declaration of St Valentine's Day. The first recorded association of St. Valentine's Day with romantic love was in the 14th century in England and France, where February 14 was traditionally the day on which birds paired off to mate. By the 17th century, it had become common for lovers to exchange notes on this day and to call each other "Valentines". By the latter half of the 20th century, the practice of the giving of gifts, usually from the man to the woman, had become common, and that is how many cultures know Valentine's Day today.

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