There is debate as to how Valentine’s Day originated, but most historians agree that St. Valentine, the patron saint of lovers, was responsible.

St. Valentine was a good priest who refused to give up Christianity. Claudius the Cruel was emperor at the time of St. Valentine.

Claudius had lofty ambitions and wanted to conquer many surrounding lands but he had trouble getting the young men to join his army; they preferred to stay at home with their wives and families.

Claudius had the bright idea that he would just outlaw all engagements and marriages and then the men would come to his army.

St. Valentine continued to perform weddings in secret, but he was discovered and thrown into prison. Only the daughter of the head of the prison was allowed to visit him. They became good friends and when St. Valentine died on February 14, 269 AD, he left the young girl a note with the wording “from your Valentine.”

This was the beginning of Valentine’s Day. Commercial valentine cards became very popular in the United States around 1850 and today more Valentine cards are sent than for any other occasion except Christmas.

European museums show valentines dating back as far as 1415.

Valentine’s Day in America was popularized by a Miss Esther Howland who was intrigued by a beautiful English valentine that she received from one of her father’s friends when she graduated from college.

Taking advantage of the family business, which was one of the largest book and stationery stores in Massachusetts, she asked her father to order the lace for her cards. She gave her brother 12 sample valentines and he took orders totaling $5,000, a very large amount of money in 1850.

Only 19 years old when she started her business, Miss Howland was very successful, making $100,000 annually, which was also a lot of money at that time.

Symbols of Valentine’s Day are hearts, cupids, roses, teddy bears and words of affection. Cupid, the son of Venus, goddess of love, when shown with his bow and arrow, is deeply rooted in Roman mythology. It was believed that the shot of Cupid’s arrow would make the unsuspecting fall in love immediately.

Big red hearts are printed on almost every piece of clothing imaginable. Big red hearts and an “I love you” message, printed on size 56 boxer shorts is considered romantic on February 14, but loses some of its charm later on when the shorts are worn to the gym.

In case you are smart enough to give some financial thought to your gift, remember you do have choices. A valentine card that expresses your feelings is always appropriate.

If you are sending red roses, which seems to be the flower of choice, be advised that you have quite a few choices as to how much money you spend.  If you simply call a florist and order a dozen red roses delivered, you aren’t going to have much, if anything, left of your $100 bill.

On the other hand, if you make your purchase at the floral department of your grocery store, you will spend closer to $25. You do have to make the delivery yourself, but there is something absolutely charming about a man standing behind a box of roses.

In the middle of January, a dozen red roses to be delivered and ordered from the florist is sold for $65 plus a $7 delivery charge in Opelika, plus tax. The same roses picked up at the Floral Department of the grocery store would be $14.99 plus tax. Prices of roses on Valentine’s Day will be substantially increased.

Be sensible, but do tell those you love that you love them.

Happy Valentine’s Day and love from Bita.


Bita Bullet is the pen name of a local anonymous writer who can be reached at