Millions around World Celebrate Saint Valentine's Day
In the West, it is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other by sending Valentine's cards, presenting flowers, chocolates and other gifts.
Saint Valentine's Day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines." Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The sending of Valentines was a fashion in nineteenth-century Great Britain. In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were made and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts.
The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, behind Christmas. The association estimates that, in the US, men spend in average twice as much money as women.
In Bulgaria Saint Valentine's Day was unknown during the Communism, but in recent years acquired greater and greater popularity. The holiday coincides with Trifon Zarezan, or the Day of Saint Trifon, patron of vine-growers, wine-producers and tavern-keepers. According to the Gregorian calendar, the Day of Saint Trifon falls on February 1, but many Bulgarians still continue to celebrate Trifon Zarezan on February 14 - one of the very few holidays to be honored according to the old calendar.
There are numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. Until 1969, the Catholic Church formally recognized eleven Valentine's Days. However, it is largely believed that the day was named after a priest, Valentine of Rome, who suffered martyrdom about AD 269 and was killed by Emperor Claudius. The legend says that Valentine fell in love with the daughter of his prison guard and left her a love note signed "from your Valentine."
Another theory claims that the holiday had its roots in Ancient Rome, where the Lupercalia festival was observed February 13 through 15. The celebration was an archaic rite connected to fertility. Lupercalia was a festival local to the city of Rome. The more general Festival of Juno Februa, meaning "Juno the purifier "or "the chaste Juno," was celebrated on February 13-14. Pope Gelasius I (492-496) abolished Lupercalia.
Some historians claim the first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer.
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