Valentine’s Day, also called St. Valentine’s Day, (February 14) when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts. Given their similarities, it has been suggested that the holiday has origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February. The festival, which celebrated the coming of spring, included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I forbade the celebration of Lupercalia and is sometimes attributed with replacing it with St. Valentine’s Day, but the true origin of the holiday is vague at best. Valentine’s Day did not come to be celebrated as a day of romance until about the 14th century.
Valentines, appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used. The first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman god of love, along with hearts, traditionally the seat of emotion. Because it was thought that the avian mating season begins in mid-February, birds also became a symbol of the day. Traditional gifts include candy and flowers, particularly red roses, a symbol of beauty and love.