History of Valentine's Day
Valentine’s Day has always been the day dedicated to lovers. There are
many stories as to how Valentine’s day started. Here are a few of them.
Valentine’s Day has its origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia,
observed on Feb. 15. Lupercalia celebrated the coming of Spring in the
Roman calendar (February was observed later in the year than it is
today). Lupercalia was associated with the Roman gods Lupercus and
Faunus. Lupercus watched over shepherds and their flocks and the
festival of Lupercalia became a celebration intended to ensure the
fertility of flocks, fields and people.
The celebration of Lupercalia transformed and spread as the Roman Empire
grew. When the Romans conquered France, it was then that the first
Valentine-like cards may have been exchanged. Apparently, a container in
which women had placed their names (possibly accompanied by love notes)
was used in a lottery. Men drawing a women’s name would either seek or
were guaranteed that woman’s favors.
Saint Valentine’s Day
The legend of St. Valentine stems from real-life martyrs from the Roman
Empire known as Valentines. It is unsure who was the St. Valentine, but
there are two possible candidates. One of these Valentines is believed
to have been a Roman priest and physician. He was killed in the third
century, during the persecutions of the Emperor Claudius II. After his
death this Valentine was buried in the Roman road Via Flaminia. Pope
Julius I is said to have later built a basilica above his grave. A
second Saint Valentine candidate, believed to be a bishop of Teni ( a
province in central Italy), was executed in Rome.
These men’s status comes from legends of harboring Christians from
persecution, curing the blindness of a cell keeper’s daughter, and
conducting marriages while they were forbidden during times of war. It
is this, along with the traditions of Lupercalia, that came together to
honor St. Valentine as the patron saint of lovers.
From its association with Lupercalia, and that day’s connection to
fertility, comes St. Valentine’s association with love and romance. This
led Valentine’s enthusiasts to appoint the Roman god Cupid as a patron
of Valentine’s day. Cupid is also known as Amor or Eros in Greek
mythology. Eros seems to have been responsible for impregnating a number
of goddesses and mortals. The ancient Greeks believed Eros was the force
"love," a force they believe was behind all creation.
There are several legends about St.Valentine’s Day. One of the legends
says that Valentine was Christian priest who lived in the 3 century A.D.
He was put into prison by roman authorities for his teachings and was
beheaded on February 14. According to the legend he performed a
miracle-he cured his jailer’s daughter of her blindness. Before the
execution he wrote her a letter signed “From Your Valentine”. Another
legend says that the same Valentine wrote to children and friends who
loved him from the jail.