Happy Valentine’s Day
Love notes, cards, chocolates and flowers have been exchanged on February 14th for hundreds of years and the tradition is still celebrated around the world in honour of Saint Valentine.
There are varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine’s Day. Some experts believe that it originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries. Legend also says that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine”.
The story goes that eight hundred years, prior to the establishment of Valentine’s Day, the Romans held a celebration in mid-February commemorating a rite of passage to the god Lupercus which featured a lottery in which the young men would draw names of teenage girls from a box. The girl assigned to each young man would be their sexual companion for the year.
Pope Gelasius wanted to take this away so instead, he ordered a change to the lottery and instead of the names of young women, the box containd the names of saints they had to emulate. When this didn’t work, the church turned to Valentine, who in AD 269 had been beheaded by Emperor Claudius.
What is told, is that Claudius thought that married men made poor soldiers and because of it, he banned marriage. In secret, Valentine would marry those who came to him. When the truth came out, Claudius first tried to convert Valentine to paganism and hwen that failed, he was imprisoned. While in jail, however, it is said that Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. Some say that his love for her healed her from her blindness. Before his death, he signed a farewell message: “From your Valentine”. This phrase stuck.
And although the lottery for women was still banned by the church, mid-February was used to celebrate St.Valentine for Roman men to seek the affection of other women. In 1415, the first Valentine card was sent by Charles, duke of Orleans to his wife. Later on, Cupid became associated with St. Valentine’s Day because of his parentage- son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty.