History of Valentine's Day for Kids: Beyond Stupid Cupid

kids valentineSome kids see Valentine’s Day as nothing more than a chance to grab a little bit of heart-shaped candy. Other kids just plain don’t care about the holiday (come on, having to give out all those Valentines is such a pain). But for even those hard cases, the history of Valentine’s Day is really interesting -- especially once they find out that it’s not all about little babies shooting heart-shaped arrows at people.

The truth is, Valentine’s Day is one big mystery, but there are some great stories about its origin nonetheless. The little princess in your life might find it swoon-worthy that Valentine may have been an imprisoned man who fell in love with his jailer's daughter. Before he was put to death, he sent her the world’s first Valentine, signed, of course, with his name.

Read on for some other cool theories and facts about the origin of this love-filled holiday.


Another legend holds that a priest by the name of St. Valentine secretly married couples in love during the third century. The Emperor had forbidden his soldiers from getting married, believing that single soldiers performed better in battle. St. Valentine disagreed, and so he married couples in secret.

The more likely, though less star-crossed, reason for the holiday goes all the way back to the ancient Roman holiday called Lupercalia. The festival honored Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage.

Here are a few other Valentine's Day facts your kids might enjoy:

  • Instead of sending cards to everyone, in the Middle Ages, young people drew names from a bowl. They pinned the other person’s name to their sleeve for one week to show everyone who their Valentine was. Imagine, an entire week with one Valentine -- who you may or may not even have a crush on!
  • The biggest Valentine ever given was the Taj Mahal in India. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built it as a memorial to his wife. 
  • Doctors in the 1880s prescribed chocolate to patients to help soothe their broken hearts.
  • Teachers receive the most Valentine’s Day cards each year -- but come on, they have an unfair advantage! 
  • Cupid is a symbol of Valentine’s Day because he was the son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Those cute little arrows he holds were actually magical arrows, believed to make those he shot fall in love.

What trivia will you be sharing with your kids about Valentine’s Day?

Image via daveparker/Flickr

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