Thursday, February 14, 2013

This Day in History

It's Valentine's Day! Have you got your someone special something special?

For those estranged couples, Saint Valentine's Day Massacre is here. (just kidding - fight fair. no full auto machine guns, kids!)

From InfoPlease:
"The history of Valentine's Day is obscure, and further clouded by various fanciful legends. The holiday's roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine's Day.

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Which St. Valentine this early pope intended to honor remains a mystery: according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by that name. One was a priest in Rome, another a bishop in Terni, and of a third St. Valentine almost nothing is known except that he met his end in Africa. Rather astonishingly, all three Valentines were said to have been martyred on Feb. 14. ...It was not until the 14th century that this Christian feast day became definitively associated with love. According to UCLA medieval scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly, author of Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine, it was Chaucer who first linked St. Valentine's Day with romance.

The tradition of Valentine's cards did not become widespread in the United States, however, until the 1850s, when Esther A. Howland, a Mount Holyoke graduate and native of Worcester, Mass., began mass-producing them.

So what else happened today? 

1848 - James Polk becomes the first U.S. President to be photographed in office by Matthew Brady.

1859 - Oregon is admitted as the thirty-third state.

1876 - Rival inventors Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell both apply for patents for the telephone.

1904 - The "Missouri Kid" is captured in Kansas.

1912 - Arizona becomes the 48th state in the Union.

1920 - The League of Women Voters is formed in Chicago in celebration of the imminent ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.

1929 - Chicago gang war between Al Capone and George "Bugs" Moran culminates with several Moran confederates being gunned down in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

1939 - Germany launches the battleship Bismark.

More here.
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