History of Valentines dayFebruary has long been a month of romance. It is the month associated with ValentinesDay celebrations. We have, time and again, heard the name St. Valentine being utteredbefore us in this season of love. But just who is this St. Valentine? Why is this monthassociated with love and romance? Learn about St. Valentine, how Valentine’s day cameinto practice as it is today. The origin of this lovers day goes back as early as 270 A.D andstarted with the clash between a kindly priest and a mighty ruler. To know more, just readon and discover the true meaning of this festival. If you like our little article about thesplendid history of Valentines Day, just click here and refer this page to your friends andloved ones. Wish you a Happy Valentine!Every year, the fourteenth day of the month of February has millions across the worldpresenting their loved ones with candy, flowers, chocolates and other lovely gifts. In manycountries, restaurants and eateries are seen to be filled with couples who are eager tocelebrate their relationship and the joy of their togetherness through delicious cuisines.There hardly seems to be a young man or woman who is not keen to make the most of theday.The reason behind all of this is a kindly cleric named Valentine who died more than athousand years ago. It is not exactly known why the 14th of February is known as Valentines Day or if the noble Valentine really had any relation to this day. The history of Valentines Day is impossible to be obtained from any archive and the veil of centuries gone by has made the origin behind this day more difficult to trace. It is only some legends that are our source for the history of Valentines Day. The modern St. Valentines Day celebrations are said to have been derived from both ancient Christian and Roman tradition. As per one legend, the holiday has originated from the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalis/Lupercalia, a fertility celebration that used to beobserved annually on February 15. But the rise of Christianity in Europe saw many paganholidays being renamed for and dedicated to the early Christian martyrs. Lupercalia was noexception. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius turned Lupercalia into a Christian feast dayand set its observance a day earlier, on February 14. He proclaimed February 14 tobe the feast day in honor of Saint Valentine, a Roman martyr who lived in the 3rdcentury. It is this St. Valentine whom the modern Valentines Day honors.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints bythe name of Valentine. While one was a priest in Rome, another was a bishop in Terni.Nothing is known about the third St. Valentine except that he met his end in Africa.Surprisingly, all three of them were said to have been martyred on 14th February.It is clear that Pope Gelasius intended to honor the first of these threeaforementioned men. Most scholars believe that this St. Valentine was a priest who livedaround 270 AD in Rome and attracted the disfavor of Roman emperor Claudius II who ruledduring this time.The story of St. Valentine has two different versions - the Protestant and the Catholic one.Both versions agree upon Saint Valentine being a bishop who held secret marriageceremonies of soldiers in opposition to Claudius II who had prohibited marriage for youngmen and was executed by the latter. During the lifetime of Valentine, the golden era ofRoman empire had almost come to an end. Lack of quality administrators led to frequentcivil strife. Education declined, taxation increased and trade witnessed a very bad time. TheRoman empire faced crisis from all sides, from the Gauls, Slavs, Huns, Turks andMongolians from Northern Europe and Asia. The empire had grown too large to be shieldedfrom external aggression and internal chaos with existing forces. Naturally, more and morecapable men were required to to be recruited as soldiers and officers to protect the nationfrom takeover. When Claudius became the emperor, he felt that married men were moreemotionally attached to their families, and thus, will not make good soldiers. He believedthat marriage made the men weak. So he issued an edict forbidding marriage to assurequality soldiers.The ban on marriage was a great shock for the Romans. But they dared not voice theirprotest against the mighty emperor. The kindly bishop Valentine alsorealized the injustice of the decree. He saw the trauma of younglovers who gave up all hopes of being united in marriage. He plannedto counter the monarchs orders in secrecy. Whenever lovers thoughtof marrying, they went to Valentine who met them afterwards in asecret place, and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. Andthus he secretly performed many marriages for young lovers. Butsuch things cannot remain hidden for long. It was only a matter oftime before Claudius came to know of this "friend of lovers," and hadhim arrested.While awaiting his sentence in prison, Valentine was approached by his jailor, Asterius. Itwas said that Valentine had some saintly abilities and one of them granted him the power toheal people. Asterius had a blind daughter and knowing of the miraculous powers ofValentine he requested the latter to restore the sight of his blind daughter. The Catholiclegend has it that Valentine did this through the vehicle of his strong faith, a phenomenonrefuted by the Protestant version which agrees otherwise with the Catholic one. Whateverthe fact, it appears that Valentine in some way did succeed to help Asterius blind daughter.
When Claudius II met Valentine, he was said to have been impressed by the dignity and conviction of the latter. However, Valentine refused to agree with the emperor regarding the ban on marriage. It is also said that the emperor tried to convert Valentine to the Roman gods but was unsuccessful in his efforts. Valentine refused to recognize Roman Gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully. This angered Claudius II who gave the order of execution of Valentine.Meanwhile, a deep friendship had been formed between Valentine and Asterius daughter. Itcaused great grief to the young girl to hear of his friends imminent death. It is said thatjust before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper from his jailor, and signed afarewell message to her "From Your Valentine," a phrase that lived ever after. As peranother legend, Valentine fell in love with the daughter of his jailer during his imprisonment.However, this legend is not given much importance by historians. The most plausible storysurrounding St. Valentine is one not centered on Eros (passionate love) but on agape(Christian love): he was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion. Valentine is believedto have been executed on February 14, 270 AD.Thus 14th February became a day for all lovers and Valentine became its Patron Saint. Itbegan to be annually observed by young Romans who offered handwritten greetings ofaffection, known as Valentines, on this day to the women they admired. With the coming ofChristianity, the day came to be known as St. Valentines Day.But it was only during the 14th century that St. Valentines Day became definitivelyassociated with love. UCLA medieval scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly, author of "Chaucer and theCult of Saint Valentine", credits Chaucer as the one who first linked St. ValentinesDay with romance. In medieval France and England it was believed that birds mated onFebruary 14. Hence, Chaucer used the image of birds as the symbol of lovers in poemsdedicated to the day. In Chaucers "The Parliament of Fowls," the royal engagement, themating season of birds, and St. Valentines Day are related:"For this was on St. Valentines Day, When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate."By the Middle Ages, Valentine became as popular as to become one of the most popularsaints in England and France. Despite attempts by the Christian church to sanctify theholiday, the association of Valentine’s Day with romance and courtship continued throughthe Middle Ages. The holiday evolved over the centuries. By the 18th century, gift-givingand exchanging hand-made cards on Valentines Day had become common in England.Hand-made valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts began tobe created on this day and handed over to the man or woman oneloved. This tradition eventually spread to the American colonies. Itwas not until the 1840s that Valentines Day greeting cards began tobe commercially produced in the U.S. The first American ValentinesDay greeting cards were created by Esther A. Howlanda MountHolyoke, a graduate and native of Worcester. Mass. Howland, knownas the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real
lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap". It was when Howland beganValentines cards in a large scale that the tradition really caught on in the United States.Today, Valentines Day is one of the major holidays in the U.S. and has become abooming commercial success. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of allcards sent each year are "valentine"s. The "valentines", as Valentines Day cards are betterknown as, are often designed with hearts to symbolize love. The Valentines Day cardspread with Christianity, and is now celebrated all over the world. One of the earliestvalentines was sent in 1415 AD by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife during hisimprisonment in the Tower of London. The card is now preserved in the British Museum.There may be doubts regarding the actual identity of Valentine, but we know that he reallyexisted because archaeologists have recently unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancientchurch dedicated to a Saint Valentine. ANOTHER VERSIONThe History of Saint Valentines DayValentines Day started in the time of the Roman Empire. In ancient Rome, February14th was a holiday to honour Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods andGoddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. Thefollowing day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia.The lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, one of the customs of the young peoplewas name drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slipsof paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girls name from the jar and would then bepartners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the childrenlasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns.Claudius the Cruel was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. He believed thatthe reason was that roman men did not want to leave their loves or families. As a result, Claudius cancelledall marriages and engagements in Rome. The good Saint Valentine was a priest at Rome in the days ofClaudius II. He and Saint Marius aided the Christian martyrs and secretly married couples, and for this kinddeed Saint Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to bebeaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day ofFebruary, about the year 270. At that time it was the custom in Rome, a very ancient custom, indeed, tocelebrate in the month of February the Lupercalia, feasts in honour of a heathen god. On these occasions,amidst a variety of pagan ceremonies, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which theywere drawn by the men as chance directed.The pastors of the early Christian Church in Rome endeavoured to do away with the pagan element in thesefeasts by substituting the names of saints for those of maidens. And as the Lupercalia began about themiddle of February, the pastors appear to have chosen Saint Valentines Day for the celebration of this newfeaSt. So it seems that the custom of young men choosing maidens for valentines, or saints as patrons forthe coming year, arose in this way.
St. Valentines StoryLet me introduce myself. My name is Valentine. I lived in Rome during the third century. That was long, longago! At that time, Rome was ruled by an emperor named Claudius. I didnt like Emperor Claudius, and Iwasnt the only one! A lot of people shared my feelings.Claudius wanted to have a big army. He expected men to volunteer to join. Many men just did not want tofight in wars. They did not want to leave their wives and families. As you might have guessed, not manymen signed up. This made Claudius furious. So what happened? He had a crazy idea. He thought that if menwere not married, they would not mind joining the army. So Claudius decided not to allow any moremarriages. Young people thought his new law was cruel. I thought it was preposterous! I certainly wasntgoing to support that law!Did I mention that I was a priest? One of my favourite activities was to marry couples. Even after EmperorClaudius passed his law, I kept on performing marriage ceremonies -- secretly, of course. It was really quiteexciting. Imagine a small candlelit room with only the bride and groom and myself. We would whisper thewords of the ceremony, listening all the while for the steps of soldiers.One night, we did hear footsteps. It was scary! Thank goodness the couple I was marrying escaped in time.I was caught. (Not quite as light on my feet as I used to be, I guess.) I was thrown in jail and told that mypunishment was death.I tried to stay cheerful. And do you know what? Wonderful things happened. Many young people came tothe jail to visit me. They threw flowers and notes up to my window. They wanted me to know that they, too,believed in love.One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit me in thecell. Sometimes we would sit and talk for hours. She helped me to keep my spirits up. She agreed that I didthe right thing by ignoring the Emperor and going ahead with the secret marriages. On the day I was to die,I left my friend a little note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. I signed it, "Love from yourValentine."I believe that note started the custom of exchanging love messages on Valentines Day. It was written onthe day I died, February 14, 269 A.D. Now, every year on this day, people remember. But most importantly,they think about love and friendship. And when they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how hetried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh -- because they know that love cant be beaten!Valentine TraditionsHundreds of years ago in England, many children dressed up as adults on Valentines Day. They wentsinging from home to home. One verse they sang was:Good morning to you, valentine;Curl your locks as I do mine ---Two before and three behind.Good morning to you, valentine.In Wales wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on February 14th. Hearts, keys and keyholeswere favourite decorations on the spoons. The decoration meant, "You unlock my heart!"In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be.They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now meansthat it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.In some countries, a young woman may receive a gift of clothing from a young man. If she keeps the gift, itmeans she will marry him.
Some people used to believe that if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentines Day, it meant shewould marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw agoldfinch, she would marry a millionaire.A love seat is a wide chair. It was first made to seat one woman and her wide dress. Later, the love seat orcourting seat had two sections, often in an S-shape. In this way, a couple could sit together -- but not tooclosely!Think of five or six names of boys or girls you might marry, As you twist the stem of an apple, recite thenames until the stem comes off. You will marry the person whose name you were saying when the stem felloff.Pick a dandelion that has gone to seed. Take a deep breath and blow the seeds into the wind. Count theseeds that remain on the stem. That is the number of children you will have.If you cut an apple in half and count how many seeds are inside, you will also know how many children youwill have.