How to Spell Valentine's Day Correctly

March 7, 2024
David Sunnyside

Regardless of whether you love or hate the holiday of candy hearts and cupids, there’s no denying that it’s an important time to show your appreciation for loved ones. But it’s not without its problems. For instance, many people misspell the name of this beloved holiday by adding an S to Valentine’s Day. It’s not a mistake you should make.

To fully understand why, you must first understand how the word valentine works. In English, the word valentine is both a common noun and a proper noun. When it’s used as a common noun, it means “a lover or sweetheart.” When it’s used as a proper noun, however, it means “the day dedicated to Saint Valentine.” It is the latter that deserves the possessive apostrophe and S (Saint Valentine’s Day).

While we can’t know for sure, some believe that St. Valentine’s Day was established to honor the memory of two different men named Valentinus. One of the namesakes was a priest who defied Roman Emperor Claudius II by officiating marriages for soldiers in secret. The other was a Christian martyr who may have been executed on February 14, according to NPR.

In any case, by the 16th century, the holiday we know as Valentine’s Day was already a prominent occasion for lovers to exchange notes and gifts. In fact, Chaucer’s poem The Parliament of Fowls references the day as the beginning of the birds’ mating season, a perfect metaphor for a celebration of affection. By the 19th century, lace and ribbon-strewn cards were being mass-produced.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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