Opinions differ as to who was the original Valentine, but the most popular theory is that he was a clergyman who was executed for secretly marrying couples in ancient Rome.
In A.D. 496, Pope Gelasius I declared Feb. 14 as Valentine’s Day. Esther Howland, a native of Massachusetts, is given credit for selling the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in the 1840s.
U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average $137, down from last year’s record-high $147, according to a survey carried out for the National Retail Federation. Total spending is expected to reach $18.2 billion, down from $19.7 billion last year, which was also a record.