Valentine’s Day is a very popular date for many people. Whether you are celebrating a new love, or a long-term relationship, or you’re at home sulking over a lost love, Valentine’s Day is a significant day for almost everyone. On this day across the country cards, flowers, candies, love letters, and cute and furry little stuffed animals are sent, given, and unwrapped every year. Countless couples go to many different places for dates to show their significant others how much they care and value them. Have you ever wondered where Valentine’s Day originated and why it is as important and as popular as it is? The history of Valentine’s Day tells the story.
The origination of this popular holiday is all in the name of St. Valentine. Who is this saint? This saint is apparently a very mysterious entity. While mystery shrouds this holiday, what is known is that February has been a romantic month for a long time. St. Valentine’s Day contains components of both Christian traditions and Ancient Roman traditions. The Catholic Church today recognizes at least three saints with the name of Valentine or Valentinus. All of these recognized saints were at one point in time martyred.
One legend that is circulating about this traditional holiday is that Valentine was a priest who had served during the third century in Rome. The Emperor of Rome at the time was Emperor Claudius II. He decided that single men, those without women or children to take care of and support made better soldiers than those who were married with children. Because of the conclusion he came to, Claudius ordered the outlaw of marriage for young men, whom he viewed were his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine realized the injustice of such a decree and defied Claudius’s command by continuing to perform marriages for young lovers even though it was very dangerous for him to do so. When Claudius discovered the actions of Valentine, Claudius ordered that he immediately be put to death.
Other legends include suggestions that Valentine was killed while he was trying to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were possibly being beaten and even tortured at times. So now you are wondering why he had to do with a holiday that is a famous day for lovers. According to a legend, the first Valentine greeting was actually allegedly sent by Valentine himself. When he was in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love. The person he fell in love with was a young girl, possibly his captor’s daughter. She was said to have visited him during his confinement while in prison.
Before Valentine’s death, it is alleged that he wrote her a love letter. He signed this letter with the expression “From your Valentine”. This expression is still used today on Valentine’s Day and is signed at the bottom of cards and Valentine gifts. Though the real truth behind the Valentine legends is still somewhat of a mystery, what is clear is why Valentine is looked upon as a brave, compassionate, and romantic person. By the Middle Ages, Valentine was, not surprisingly, one of the most popular saints throughout England and France.