Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day are some of the national observances on a U.S. calendar. Typically, national observances are celebrated by the majority of the American people but are not accompanied by the closing of government and financial institutions or other public and private offices.
The Romans originally celebrated the spring festival of Lupercalia on February 15. The advent of Christianity saw the observance change to February 14, and the name changed in remembrance of several saints named Valentine. How the observance became associated with romance is unclear, but its spring occurrence matches many natural mating cycles.
St. Patrick's Day was first celebrated on March 17 in America in 1737. The activity of parading on St. Patrick's Day was instituted by Irish members of the British Army who marched to fife and drums in New York in 1766. The influx of immigrants from Ireland in the mid-1800s fueled the celebrations.
The American observance of both Mother's Day and Father's Day can be credited to Anna Jarvis, who held a memorial for her mother at St. Andrew's Methodist Church in 1908, in Grafton, West Virginia. She began lobbying for a mother's observance in 1905. The first Father's Day observance followed two months later at the Methodist church in Fairmont, West Virginia.