Who Sent the First Valentine’s Day Card?

The ancient Romans celebrated a feast of the Wolf-God on February 14. When the Catholic Church set out to change the old Pagan feast days into religious feast days, they made the feast of the wolf-god into the feast day of St. Valentine, an Italian priest who had been martyred in the year 270.

Why did this saint’s feast day become a day for lovers? No one knows for sure. Perhaps it had something to do with an English custom of the fourteenth century. On February 14, the unmarried people in a village would each draw the name of another unmarried person, and the two would then exchange notes.

Charles, the Duke of Orleans in France, was said to be the first person to send a love note on St. Valentine’s Day. In 1415, he sent a letter to his wife from an English prison. Gradually, it became the custom for lovers to exchange notes on this day, and each year millions of St. Valentine’s Day cards are sent in England, France, and the United States.