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Lovers' holiday celebrated on February 14, the feast day of St. Valentine, one of two 3rd-century Roman martyrs of the same name. St. Valentine is considered the patron of lovers and especially of those unhappily in love. The feast day became a lovers' festival in the 14th century, probably as an extension of pagan love festivals and fertility rites celebrated in mid-February. Today it is marked by the exchange of romantic cards (valentines), flowers, and other gifts.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Valentine's Day, visit Britannica.com.