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Valentine’s Day: Then and Now

by Ariana Boyce

Valentine’s Day is celebrated on Feb. 14. It is best described as a festival of romantic love. Many people give gift cards, letters, flowers or presents to their partner. They may also have a romantic meal in a restaurant or a night in a hotel. Common symbols of Valentine’s Day are hearts, Cupid and red roses.

Those who would like to strike a flame to start a new romantic relationship can use this day to express their feelings to that special someone. People also get engaged on Valentine’s Day. When it comes to cards, they are usually decorated with images of hearts, roses and other flowers. Around one billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card sending holiday after Christmas. Valentine’s Day gifts usually consist of flowers, chocolates, candy, wine, teddy bears or a romantic dinner. Some lovers may buy their partner very expensive gifts, such as jewelry or an engagement ring. Many restaurants and hotels also have specials during Valentine’s Day.

In ancient Rome, the month of February symbolized the beginning of spring and was the time of the year when fertility was celebrated. Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three saints who went by the name of Valentine. They may or may not be tied to the holiday as we know it. According to one tale, Saint Valentine was executed after it was discovered that he was performing marriages illegally. It was illegal for men to wed, because unmarried men made the best soldiers for the army. Another legend states that St. Valentine sent the original valentine when he wrote a love letter while waiting for his execution. Whatever the story, and we’ll probably never know, Valentine was honored at festivals and feasts throughout ancient Rome. At the close of one festival that fell on Feb. 14, men and women were paired and sent off to live together for one year. Surprisingly, many of these unions resulted in marriage.

Valentine’s Day is not considered a public holiday in today’s world, which means that schools, businesses and government buildings are open on this day. In elementary school, teachers have parties for their students. In these parties, the children each decorate their own boxes for Valentine’s Day cards to go into. Each student also makes Valentine’s Day cards and walks around the classroom, putting cards into their classmate’s boxes. This tradition has been in American schools for many years. The teachers usually bring cookies and provide snacks for the party, and parents get involved too.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that celebrates love. This February holiday brings couples closer together, and helps students in a classroom to get to know each other better. Any way the day is celebrated, it gives people a chance to enjoy a day that is fully dedicated to those warm, fuzzy feelings that do the heart good. Valentine’s Day is a perfect day to dedicate some quality time to those you love.

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