SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY

Valentine, Saint, Christian martyr of 3rd century; feast day February 14; dropped from Roman Catholic calendar in 1969.

People once believed that birds, particularly lovebirds, began to mate on February 14. In ancient Rome the festival of the Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15; the festival involved fertility rites and honored the two Roman gods Juno and Pan. In modern times it is customary to exchange cards and other gifts with loved ones, close friends, and family members on February 14. The day is called St. Valentine's Day. The holiday apparently has no connection with the two martyred St. Valentines of 3rd-century Rome except that their feast days also are celebrated on February 14.

The modern celebration of St. Valentine's Day probably grew out of a tradition that started in about the 14th century. For many years young people in France and England would get together on St. Valentine's Eve. Each person became the "valentine" of he one whose name was drawn from a valentine box.