Who wrote the first Valentine?

Holidays and Celebrations

Valentine’s Day, celebrated on the 14th of February each year, is a holiday dedicated to expressing love and affection towards others. One of the most popular customs associated with this day is the exchange of Valentines, which are heartfelt messages of love and admiration. But who wrote the first Valentine? Let’s delve into the history and find out.

The Origins of Valentine’s Day

The origins of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to ancient Roman times. There were several Christian martyrs named Valentine, but the most prominent one associated with the holiday is Saint Valentine of Rome.

Saint Valentine of Rome

Saint Valentine of Rome was a third-century Roman saint who was martyred for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. It is believed that he was executed on the 14th of February, which eventually became the date for celebrating Valentine’s Day.

The First Valentine

While Saint Valentine of Rome is often credited with inspiring the holiday, it is unclear who wrote the first Valentine. The tradition of exchanging written messages of love and affection on Valentine’s Day can be traced back to the Middle Ages.

Medieval Valentine’s Day

In medieval times, it was common for individuals to exchange written tokens of love on Valentine’s Day. These tokens, known as “valentines,” were often handmade and decorated with romantic symbols such as hearts and flowers. However, it is difficult to determine who exactly wrote the first Valentine, as many of these early valentines were anonymous.

Geoffrey Chaucer and the Birth of Valentine’s Day Poetry

One of the earliest recorded instances of Valentine’s Day poetry can be found in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, a famous English poet from the 14th century. In his poem “Parlement of Foules,” Chaucer links the tradition of Valentine’s Day with the mating season of birds.

Chaucer’s poem reads:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

This passage is often seen as one of the first references to Valentine’s Day as a celebration of romantic love.

The Evolution of Valentine’s Day Cards

As the centuries passed, the tradition of exchanging valentines evolved. In the 18th century, handmade valentine cards became popular in England. These cards were intricately decorated with lace, ribbons, and romantic images.

Esther Howland and the Mass Production of Valentine’s Day Cards

In the United States, the commercialization of Valentine’s Day cards can be attributed to Esther Howland. In the 1840s, Howland began mass-producing valentines using imported lace and paper. Her elaborate and beautifully designed cards became highly sought after, and she is often referred to as the “Mother of the American Valentine.”

The Influence of Victorian Era on Valentine’s Day Cards

During the Victorian era, Valentine’s Day cards became even more elaborate and sentimental. The cards were adorned with embossed designs, intricate cutouts, and romantic verses. The popularity of sending valentine cards soared during this time, and it became a widespread tradition.

Modern-Day Valentines

In the modern era, valentine cards are readily available in stores and online. They come in a variety of designs, ranging from humorous to sentimental, and can be personalized to express individual feelings of love and affection.


While the exact identity of the person who wrote the first Valentine remains a mystery, the tradition of exchanging love tokens on Valentine’s Day dates back centuries. From the anonymous valentines of the Middle Ages to the mass-produced cards of Esther Howland, the act of expressing love and affection through written messages has remained a cherished custom.

Valentine’s Day continues to be a day dedicated to celebrating love in all its forms, and the tradition of exchanging Valentines remains an integral part of this special day.

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