Did you know… that Valentine’s Day was named after Saint Valentine, of which there were many (it’s unknown whether one person in particular is linked to the holiday). Pope Gelasius I started Valentine’s Day way back in 496 AD and romance was not linked to the holiday until the 14th Century.
The day was actually about sacrifice; as in people who gave up their lives rather than convert from Christianity. That doesn’t exactly conjure up images of heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. In fact, the connection between Valentine’s Day and romantic inclinations was actually a possible misinterpretation of a Chaucer poem written in 1382 for King Richard II in England to Anne of Bohemia:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
[“For this was sent on Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”]
The reference to choosing a mate on Valentine’s Day had only to do with King Richard II getting married on that day and was not, by any means, a general reference to a specific day when one should choose a mate (love was not even a common reason for marriage in the 1300’s).
That’s one big OOPS for the history books! Should you return those roses? Take back your sweet-nothings? Or is it a convenient accident that we turned this day of historic strife into one of lovingkindness?