OK, so maybe most people have an idea of what the date is most 'famous' for these days. Let's face it, unless you live in a box, you learn about the commercial side of it from an early age! But what is it all really about? When did the date become synonymous with the occasion? And why?
Saint Valentine himself is long gone, so depending on your point of view/historical perspective/religious belief and so forth, there are around a dozen St Valentines in history for you to choose from. The most 'popular' of these is St Valentine (Valentinus) of Rome whom it is believed died in A.D. 270, some 1745 years ago, and is alleged to have been buried on the Via Flaminia (the road between Rome and the Adriatic Sea passing over the Apennine Mountains).
The blame for his modern day association with romantic love apparently lays firmly at the hand of Geoffrey Chaucer, the so-called 'Father of English Literature', from the fourteenth century. His more prominent works include 'Troilus and Cressida' and 'The Canterbury Tales'.
Chaucer's poem of 1381 (approx), entitled "Parlement of Foules" holds the lines “......For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate......,” which later was acknowledged as the first recorded association of the celebration of February 14, St Valentines Day, with romantic love. A modern translation can be read here.
So there you have it, in a nutshell. Today, in the USA alone more than 170 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged, although few (if any) of them hold a literary candle to GC's original!