Who started this one-day celebration of love? Those of us from the sixties tried our best to extend it past an annual event!

One starting point seems to be the pagan Lupercalia festival held on the ides of February (February 15) to celebrate fertility. Courtly love flourished in the middle ages, and some believe Christianity tried to tidy up the pagan celebrating, by declaring February 14th St. Valentine’s Day. There was more than one St. Valentine canonized and one was a rebellious priest who secretly married young couples in love, although this was forbidden by the warlord Emperor of the time. Legend has it that this Father Valentine was imprisoned and sentenced to death for his defiance. On the eve of his execution, he wrote a love letter to a young woman who had befriended him and signed it simply, “Your Valentine” – he was executed on February 14th.

Watch this video for 3 more minutes on the convoluted history of this day of love.

History.com offers details on this this centuries-old holiday, plus inspiration and lots of fascinating facts. For instance, evidently there are 34 single men 65 years old and older for every 100 women of the same age (yikes, your dad will have his pick of the gals!), 141 million Valentine’s cards will be exchanged, 180 million roses sent and 36 million boxes of chocolate received! All of the cards, dinners and diamonds add up to over 14 billion dollars annually, so at least we know the economy is stimulated.

You could choose to do good while wooing your Valentine. For every Valentine you send TODAY through Macy’s Facebook page, Macy’s will donate $1 to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement.  On the other hand, you can buy your loved one an acre of the rainforest. The World Land Trust offers a half-acre purchase for about $80. The land you help save is protected in perpetuity in nature reserves, owned and managed by local organizations.  Now that is the way to put your money where your heart is.

Just as our hearts pulse in and out, so should our love – give it away and fill yourself up with it. Happy Valentine’s Day!