Valentine’s Day – a time for romance, love and… laughter? Like each Other holiday, Valentine’s Day becomes the perfect chance for meme-makers every year to flood social media with witty articles, humorous memes and rib-tickling jokes. Valentine’s Day is celebrated every year on February 14 as the day of love, though its history and its patron saint is shrouded in mystery. There are lots of stories about the source of February 14 being celebrated as Valentine’s Day.
Across the United States and at other places across the world, candy, Flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the history of Valentine’s Day, by the ancient Roman ritual of Lupercalia that welcomed spring to the card-giving customs of Victorian England.
The history of Valentine’s Day
- We all do know that February has long been celebrated As a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we understand it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
- Recognizes at least three unique saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Others insist that it was Saint Valentine of Terni, a bishop, that had been the true namesake of the holiday. He, too, was beheaded by Claudius II outside Rome.
- Other stories suggest that Valentine Might have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were frequently beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first”valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young woman –possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it’s alleged that he wrote her a letter signed”From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most significantly –romantic figure. From the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this standing, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.
- While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the midst of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an attempt to”Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
To Start the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests could sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with all the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the signature of their hides because it was believed to make them more prosperous in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all of the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman.
Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity But was outlawed–because it was deemed”un-Christian”–in the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t until much later, but the day became associated with love. Throughout the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which included to the idea that the center of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance. The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to record St. Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic party within his 1375 poem”Parliament of Foules,” writing, ““For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his partner.”
The Middle Ages, however written Valentine’s didn’t start to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a Poem composed in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he Was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now a part of the manuscript collection of the British Library at London, England.) Many Years after, It’s believed that