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(The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia.Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year.

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According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement.

Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.

The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification.

They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide.

Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure.

By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century.

By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology.

The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love.

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