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Valentine's Day

Ah, love, isn't it grand? Historians have traced the origin of Valentine's Day to the Roman Empire. The Romans held a celebration every Feb. 14 to honor Juno the Queen of Roman Gods. The Romans regarded Juno as the Goddess of women and marriage. On the following day, the Festival of Lupercalia was celebrated to honor the gods Lupercus and Faunus.

The custom of the feast was to bring otherwise strictly supervised and separated young boys and girls together. The names of the young girls were placed in jars and each boy got to pick a name and they were paired up for the duration of the festival.

Many of these pairings resulted in long and fruitful marriages. While the feast of Lupercalia set the stage for Valentine's Day, a young and courageous priest, Valentine, has become the international symbol of love and romance. It is believed that during the reign of Claudius II, the army had become decimated through many bloody campaigns and it became difficult to get new recruits.

The emperor believed that young men with wives and families were less likely to join the army and he eventually made it illegal for young men eligible for the army to marry. The priest, Valentine continued to perform marriage ceremonies secretly in spite of the new law and at his own peril.

Eventually, Valentine was caught, savagely beaten and put to death on Feb. 14, 270 AD. Valentine was made a Saint and Pope Gelasius declared Feb. 14, St Valentine's Day.

The popularity of Valentine's Day is ubiquitous. Valentine's Day is celebrated in countries across seven continents. Each year in the United States, more than one billion Valentine's Day cards are given to teachers, mothers, girlfriends, boyfriends, children wives, husbands and yes, pets.

Just over 5 percent of Valentine's Day cards are sent to pets. Worldwide, more than 50 million roses are purchased and given for Valentine's Day each year, 73 percent of the flowers purchased on Valentine's Day are purchased by men and 27 percent are purchased by women.

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