Valentine’s Day… ah… a time to spend with the ones you love. We celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving flowers, chocolates or other gifts to each other in the spirit of showing our love for one another. But how did this Holiday of Love actually begin? I thought I’d give you a brief history of Valentine’s Day in celebration of the holiday.
Although there are several different opinions as to the actual origin of the holiday, Legend says that St. Valentine, a Catholic bishop in 5th Century Rome served as a priest at the temple during the reign of the Emperor Claudius. The Emperor decided that men who were married made terrible soldiers and banned marriage from his realm. But Valentine secretly performed the marriage ceremonies of those who asked him to marry them. When Claudius found out he tried to convert Valentine to paganism but Valentine, turning the tables, tried to convert Claudius to the church. Claudius in turn had Valentine imprisoned and then beheaded. While Valentine was in prison he fell in love with the jailer’s blind daughter. His love for her and his enormous faith enabled him to heal her blindness before he died. As a farewell gesture Valentine left the girl a farewell note signing it “From Your Valentine”. The first Valentine card grew from his simple gesture of love.
In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius chose February 14th to honor St. Valentine in order to do away with an 800-year tradition of a pagan celebration in mid-February that commemorated young men’s rite of passage to the god Lupercus. During the celebration these young me would choose the name of a teenage girl from a box and she would be his sexual partner for the remainder of the year. Pope Gelasius didn’t like this part of the tradition and ordered a change. He allowed both women and men to draw names from the box, the names of Saints. During the remainder of the year both men and women were to emulate the ways of the saint that they drew. Needless to say the men weren’t too happy with this rule, nor the women for that matter. Pope Galasius wanted to choose a suitable saint of love to take the place of the pagan god Lupercus. He chose St. Valentine.
So carry on the tradition of St. Valentine and profess your love through a note, card or gift. And while you’re purchasing those items don’t forget to pick up a novel by one of your favorite authors.
Happy Valentine’s Day!