Valentine’s Day is a time of year celebrated by couples. But where did it come from? There are several different legends from the Catholic Church that names three saints as Valentine or Valentinus. One legend says that Valentine was a priest. They served during the third century in Rome when Emperor Claudius II ruled. It was decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so the Emperor outlawed marriage for young men so they would be soldiers instead. Valentine thought this decree was terrible and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s marriages were discovered, the Emperor ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest say that Valentine may have been killed for helping Christians escape from Roman prisons. In these prisons, men were beaten and tortured. Another legend suggested that Valentine was imprisoned and sent the first “valentine” greeting to a young girl who he had fallen in love. Before he died, he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine.” It is not clear if these legends hold any truth, however the stories have made the saint become one of the most popular saints in England and France.
In past times, different festivals and holidays were often “Christianize” and claimed by the Christian church. Valentine’s Day was said to be celebrated to commemorate Saint Valentine’s death. However, the pagan celebration of Lupercalia is celebrated February 15. It is a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
According to history, “Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity but was outlawed—as it was deemed ‘un-Christian’”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.”
Today, the holiday of Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many parts of the world. Normally expressed as small cards and sometimes candies to go along with it. The Greeting Card Association says there are one billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent or given each year. This makes Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday in the year, the first being Christmas. It says most of the purchases are made by women. So keep sending out those lovely cards, ladies.