Ever wondered why we spend Valentine’s Day the way we do? Find out about the history of Valentine’s Day and everything about this day right here.
It’s the sweet exuberance of February and Valentine’s Day is right here.
The time of the year when lovers’ hands are clasped together and lips are puckered for that loving kiss.
It’s that time when loving moments last for eternity.
And the beautiful hours spent together just don’t seem to disappear.
The month when red is the color of the season, and hearts are worn on the sleeves for all to see.
The flowers bloom in all its hues and fragrances.
The clouds float lazily and cloud nine feels so much closer.
Everything gets so beautiful when you’re in love this month, doesn’t it?
It’s Valentine’s Day!
It may be the shortest month of the year, but when you’re in love, boy, can this month make you feel like you’re swimming in sweet cotton candy!
This is the most glorious month of the year, especially if you’re in love, for on the eve of February 14, dawns the beautiful day dedicated to lovers all around the world, St. Valentine’s Day.
It is a special day when you eat more chocolates than food, the day when you smell more flowers than perfumes, and the day when love seems to have taken an entirely different meaning to something that is truer, deeper, and so much sweeter!
Everywhere you go on Valentine’s Day, you see couples holding hands, the malls are filled with young sweethearts, the movies seem to be mushier this month, and cards and love notes make you melt.
It’s great to enjoy the loving spirit this month but as with every great day, comes a story that is just as fascinating…
The history of Valentine’s Day
There are several stories about the origin of this day, and all of them are associated with a saint by the name, St. Valentine. One legend says that he was a priest near Rome during the reign of Claudius II.
Rome was a huge empire that was in constant battle from all sides, which, considering the size of Rome was nothing unexpected. The empire had grown too large to be shielded from external aggression and internal chaos with existing forces. Thus, more of capable men were required to be recruited as soldiers and officers. When Claudius became the emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, will not make good soldiers. So to assure the high quality of soldiers, he banned marriage.
This came as a blow to the soldiers, who could not imagine leaving their lovers behind without even a promise of love and togetherness, to have a reason to fight the battle and reunite with their lovers in matrimony.
Valentine, a bishop, seeing the trauma of young lovers, met them in a secret place and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. Claudius learned of this “friend of lovers” and had him arrested. The emperor, impressed with the young priest’s dignity and conviction, attempted to convert him to the Roman gods, to save him from certain execution.
Valentine refused to recognize Roman gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully.
On February 24, 270 A.D., Valentine was executed. But we’ve still been celebrating this day ever since.
What really happened to Valentine?
There are varying ideas about what exactly happened to Valentine after his arrest.
A few historians say that he was beheaded, whereas the others say that he became sick and died in prison.
In 1835, the remains of St. Valentine were given to Father John Spratt by Pope Gregory XVI. The gift, in a black and gold casket, can still be viewed every Valentine’s Day at the Whitefrair Street Church in Dublin, Ireland.
There was another Valentine, a bishop of Interamna during the same time, and some critics say that it was the Valentine of Interamna who is the actual Valentine.
On the other hand, we also have a few historians who are convinced that both the Valentines were the same person.
From your Valentine
While Valentine was in prison awaiting his fate, he came in contact with his jailor, Asterius. The jailor had a blind daughter. Asterius requested Valentine to heal his daughter. Through his faith, he miraculously restored the sight of Asterius’ daughter.
It is believed that he fell in love with this girl, who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a heartfelt letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine.’ And even now, years and centuries after this letter was written, the expression has touched our hearts and we still use the same words of love that was once used to express an emotion that has no words to explain.
Why February 14?
In 496 A.D., February 14 was declared in the name of St. Valentine by Pope Gelasius. It remained a Church holiday until 1969, when Pope Paul VI took it out from the calendar.
On February 13 and 14, the ancient Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia in honor of Juno, the queen of the Roman gods and goddesses. Juno was also the goddess of women and marriage, so honoring her was thought to be a fertility rite.
At the feast held the next day, the women would write love letters and stick them in a large urn. The men would pick a letter from the urn and for the next year, pursue the woman who wrote the chosen letter. This custom lasted until the 1700’s when people decided their beloveds should be chosen by sight, not luck.
But people continued to write love notes and exchange gifts on February 14, and hence this day was dedicated to the priest who died trying to bring lovers together, and to all the lovers the world over. Thus, Valentine became a patron saint and a spiritual overseer of this loving annual festival of love and togetherness.
So now that you know why we celebrate Valentine’s Day, share it with your loved one. After all, you wouldn’t want to celebrate a special day without even as much as knowing the real reason behind it, would you?