Thursday, January 17, 2008

Valentine's Day - A Brief History

[image from Flickr: Sister72]
Valentine's Day is just around the corner. The origin of Valentine's Day is not clear. There are a few different stories out there, but no consensus on which one is true. Here are some of the more popular stories about Valentine's Day:

Two popular stories about priests, who were both named Valentine, are said to be related to the origin of Valentine's Day. One story begins with the Roman Emperor Claudius II's desire for a strong, fearless army. He felt that soldiers who married might lose their fighting edge. To combat this, he outlawed marriage for young men. Father Valentine did not agree with the Emperor's decision, so he continued to perform secret marriages for young couples in love. When Emperor Claudius found out about the secret marriages, Valentine received a death sentence.

Another story deals with another Father Valentine being placed in jail for helping Christians during the reign of Claudius. While in jail, before his execution, Valentine fell in love with the jailor's daughter. Before the day of his execution, he wrote her a letter and signed it "From your Valentine"

A number of years later, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as St. Valentine's Day to honor Father Valentine (whether it was both of them or just one of them is not clear). It is said that the Pope chose this day to Christianize the Roman pagan Lupercalia Festival, which had occurred on February 15th. The Lupercalia Festival celebrated purification and fertility. Part of the celebration auctioned off the young women in the city. The women would place their names in a big urn, and then the city's young men would choose a name out of the urn. The woman's whose name was chosen out of the urn by the man would be his partner for the year. Supposedly, these matches often ended in marriage.

Throughout the years, Valentine's Day has evolved into a day for romance and love. It is an opportunity to share small tokens of love with the special people in your life. For some more information on the history of Valentine's Day, check out this video from History Channel.

2 comments:

Danielle Marconi said...

so very interesting. I'm going to check out the video soon.

KaBloom of Sandy Springs said...

Thanks Danielle! The video is cool too. They have a few videos posted there - some of them are pretty funny!