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In honor of Valentine’s Day we are taking a look back to the origins of this special day and when it ‘officially’ started. The name “Valentine” is derived from valens (worthy, strong, powerful) and was popular in Late Antiquity.

Saint Valentine – the first romantic?

However it was one special ‘Valentine’ to whom we owe this special celebration of love; Saint Valentine of Terni. Not many details are known about this third-century Roman saint, but what is known is that he was put to death for performing secret marriages for young lovers.

During the third century in Rome, Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than married ones so he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine realized this injustice and performed the marriages. When his actions were discovered Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Valentine and his heroic and romantic actions may have ‘officially’ started Valentine’s Day!

Cards and Love Letters – Treasures to Keep!

Expressions of love takes to the pen and written Valentines began to appear after 1400. Remarkably one of and the oldest known Valentines still exists today as a poem written by Charles Duke of Orleans to his wife a duchess while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The Valentine poem that Charles wrote his wife was a sad message of being lovesick.

Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…

I am already sick of love
My very gentle Valentine…

The duchess died before the poem could reach her. Over the duke’s 25-year imprisonment, he wrote his wife 60 love poems that are often said to have been the first “Valentines.”


By the Sixteenth Century, written Valentines were commonplace and by the Seventeenth Century, it was a widespread tradition in England and other Western countries for friends and sweethearts to exchange gifts and notes on February 14.

The tradition of expressing love through letters, cards and gifts had been passed from generation to generation. Though history changes, expressions of love and dedication remain the same!

If you are thinking about selecting a unique and creative gift for your sweetie, purchase a gift that they will cherish for years (and maybe generations) to come. Pursue our gallery of unique wine maps here

Happy Valentine’s Day from VinMaps.