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Valentine Day's History: The good and the bad  

Last Updated: Jul 13, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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H. Armstrong Roberts—Retrofile/Getty Images Circa 1930s: smiling teen couple sitting on a sofa

On February 14, Americans celebrate love and friendship by exchanging cards, flowers, and candy. Although the origins of Valentine's Day are murky, ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, a spring festival, on the fifteenth of February. Like so many holidays, a Christian gloss was added to the pagan fete when the holiday moved to the fourteenth of February—the saint day associated with several early Christian martyrs named Valentine.

However, there are various theories on the origins of  Valentine's Day.   If you are fascinated with popular history, human behavior, legends,  and "who knew?"" moments,  this guide will give you both the good news and the bad news about the history of Valentine's day.  And be warned, the beginning wasn't very pleasant according to some accounts.


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