The History of St. Valentine’s Day
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From Past to Present of the February 14th Feast.
February 14th is a renowned date all over the world. It’s the day for flowers, candy, gifts and love to be shared between loved ones, near or far. It all started with St. Valentine. But where did this tradition come from? Who was this saint that we call St. Valentine?
The legend of St Valentine
For as long as we know it, February has always been the month of romance and love. We’re definitely sure that the correlation with the feast and the saint comes from a Christian and Roman tradition. There are three possible candidates in the Catholic Church that could be our St. Valentine.
The first was a priest that went by the name of Valentine and he served during the first century in Rome. The Emperor of the time had outlawed marriage for young men because he believed that single men made better soldiers. Valentine came to the rescue and he continued to perform marriages for lovers in secret. Emperor Claudius put Valentine to death when he found out of his actions.
Other legends suggest that Valentine may have been killed for helping Christians escape Roman prisons. Another possible legend is that an imprisoned Valentine sent his first ‘valentine’ letter to his lover and signed it off as ‘From your Valentine’. Whichever the legend, St. Valentine is seen as a romantic and heroic figure.
Some believe that the Christian Church decided to celebrate this feast in the middle of February to ‘Christianize’ the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a fertility festival that was dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
However, Lupercalia was deemed as ‘un-Christian’ by Pope Gelasius and he declared St. Valentine’s Day to be on February 14th. February 14th became the day of love. Furthermore, it was also known that on this day, it was birds’ mating season in England and France.
Valentine’s day now
In the United Kingdom, Valentine’s Day became extremely popular in the 17th century. It started to be common for friends and couples to send love notes, red roses and Valentine’s day gifts towards one another. Nowadays, all shops, restaurants and hotels celebrate Valentine’s Day and have themed gifts and activities for all. Going out for a romantic dinner is, by far, the most popular activity.