How it all began: The origin of St. Valentine’s Day


(eTN) – To find the origin of Valentine’s Day we turn back the clock to the Roman Empire where February 14 was originally a holiday to honor Juno the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses as well as the Goddess of women and marriage.

Emperor Claudius II (268 – 270), also known as Claudius the Cruel, was fond of starting bloody and unpopular wars for which he needed lots of men. His recruitment attempts were unsuccessful war for the men wanted to stay with their families and loved ones. To get them to “man up” he cancelled all engagements and marriages.

The Roman priest, Saint Valentine, secretly continued to marry couples in direct violation of the Emperor. When Claudius found out, Valentine was apprehended, dragged to prison and condemned. He was scheduled to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off on February 14.

During his incarceration, St. Valentine tried to stay cheerful and the young people he had married came to visit him in jail, showering him with flowers and notes.

One of his visitors was the daughter of the prison guard who was allowed to visit Valentine in his cell. Sitting and talking for hours, this young woman encouraged St. Valentine to continue to perform marriages in secret.

On the day he was scheduled to be beheaded, he left his friend a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty, and it was signed, “Love from your Valentine.” The date was February 14, 269 AD.

Now every year on this day, people remember and exchange love messages on Valentine’s Day; Emperor Claudius is remembered as having tried to stand in the way of love.

Global Romance Trivia:
In the US, marriage is big business. Nearly 6,200 ceremonies are performed per dayfor a total of 2.3 million a year. Of this total, 123,300 marriages were performed in Nevada during 2002.

The median age for a first marriage for women is 25.3 years while me are 26.9 years.

The state with the highest rate of marriage in the US is Idaho with 60 percent; New York has the lowest at 50 percent

In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.

In Wales wooden love spoons are carved and given as gifts on February 14. The spoons are decorated with hearts, keys and keyholes meaning “unlock your heart.”

In some countries, if a young woman receives a gift of clothing from a young man – and she keeps the gift, it means she will marry him.

Marriage, romance and love continue to be popular – in spite of wars and recessions. When the real thing is not available, searchers for love turn to romance literature, and Romance fiction generated $1.37 billion in sales in 20006

Romance fiction outsold every market category n 2006, with the exception of religion/inspirational

Ninety-three percent of all Romance readers are women and only one in 50 men read a Romance novel in 2002

Although love makes the world-go-round, a study by Pew Internet and American Life Project Online Dating Survey (2005), found that most young people in America “do not describe themselves as actively looking for romantic partners.”

The majority of American adults (56 percent or 113 million people) are not in the dating market (they are married or living as married); however, the number of potential romance-seekers is still huge.

Fully 43 percent of adults (87 million) say they are single. Among all singles, just 16 percent say they are currently looking for a romantic partner. This amounts to 7 percent of the adult population. Some 55 percent of singles report no active interest in seeking a romantic partner; this is especially true for women, for those who have been widowed or divorced, and for older singles.

Don’t Discount the Singles
What does all this mean for business opportunities? Destinations, hotels, restaurants, and attractions have to recognize that engagements, marriages and honeymoons are important and significant markets – however, to focus only on the couple and the family is eliminating a large market share.

Valentine’s Day is still celebrated – but sometimes the “significant other” is not spouse, or fiancée. But, as Saint Valentine found out–best enjoyed with a “best friend.”