Saint Valentine's Day is the holiday of love and many people all around the world celebrate it in one form or another.
The origins of this day are somewhat obscure, but most historians seem to agree that it started as a pagan fertility ritual in ancient Rome, called Lupercalia, where men and women were paired specifically to engage in sexual relations. Legend tells of a Christian priest named Valentine, who performed wedding ceremonies in defiance of Emperor Claudius ll's decree that soldiers were more effective when they were not married. Valentine is said to have healed his jailer's daughter's blindness and on the eve of his execution he wrote her a love letter signed 'from your Valentine.'
February 14th was first celebrated as a day of love in the 18th century, when the term 'courtly love' was coined by members of nobility to describe secret extra-marital affairs or flirtations.
When I grew up, Valentine's day was the day when one purchased a Valentine's card and mailed it anonymously to someone you secretly admired or were attracted to. I remember the anticipation of waiting for the mail to see if I had any secret admirers and if I did, the excitement of trying to guess who had sent the card. In today's world I suppose one could get an anonymous email from an untraceable account, which would be almost as much fun as receiving a card.
Today, Valentine's Day is celebrated as a christian feast on or around February 14th, and has also been commercialized, which has taken the romance out of it. Gifts and cards are exchanged by people who openly love one another, not necessarily in a romantic manner. Parents can give Valentine's gifts to their children; friends can give to friends.
The type of gifts are usually flowers, chocolates,and jewelry, and my favorite -- a good romance novel.
While there's nothing wrong with expressing different forms of love, I think I prefer the old way. Romance, and secret admirers are so much more fun!