THE HISTORY BEHIND VALENTINE’S DAY

Church of Saint Valentine Woźniki Slaskie altar

Church of Saint Valentine Woźniki Slaskie altar

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Every year couples around the world will spend the next few days searching the internet or scouring stores for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

Millions of flowers, balloons, and heart shaped candies are given away every February 14 with messages of love and appreciation. Husband’s buy jewelry for their wives, children make cards for their classes, and bosses mandate that everyone participates in “Curious Cupid.”

The average person celebrating Valentine’s Day will spend $142.31, with $96.63 going to a spouse or significant other and the rest split among family members, friends, co-workers, pets, children’s classmates or teachers or others.

People spend so much time picking out gifts and planning surprise parties that they often forget why they’re celebrating the day at all.

Valentine’s Day is a mixture of both Christian and ancient Roman traditions. The history of Valentine’s Day and the story of its patron saint is a huge mystery. A mystery so big, historians can’t come up with a straight answer.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of which were martyred. One legend suggests that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine went against Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secrecy. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl, said to be the jailer’s daughter, who visited him during his time in prison. Before his death, it is said that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine.”

Even though there will be ongoing dispute about what really happened in those times you can be sure of one thing: love is so powerful that some people would die for it.

Vyveca Wiley

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