By Tim Lambert

The Romans held a fertility festival called Lupercalia in mid February. However it's not clear if there is any link between the Ancient festival and modern St Valentine's Day. 14 February was not associated with romantic love until the late Middle Ages.

St Valentine lived in the 3rd century but very little is known about him. According to one tradition the Roman Emperor forbade young men to marry as he believed single men made better soldiers. However Valentine disobeyed him and married young men to young women. As a result Valentine was executed about 270. In 496 the Pope made 14 February his feast day. Today St Valentine is the patron saint of happy marriages. He is also the patron saint of beekeepers!

The oldest known Valentines note was written in the 15th century by a Frenchman, the Duke of Orleans to his wife. (He had been captured by the English during a war and was a prisoner in the Tower of London. The earliest known English Valentines note was written by a woman, Margaret Paston in 1477. Originally people wrote notes. In the 18th century they began making Valentines Day cards. In the 19th century boxes of chocolates went on sale. The first box of chocolates in a heart shaped box for St Valentine's Day was sold in 1868.

On St Valentine's Day in 1859 Oregon became the 33rd state of the USA. On 14 February 1876 the telephone was patented.

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