Created on: January 29, 2013 Last Updated: January 30, 2013
The historical origin of Saint Valentine’s Day is uncertain, although this saint’s association with lovers may date to the third century AD. Part of the difficulty comes from the fact that there are at least three persons with the name Valentine who lived in that distant time. Perhaps the many legends are due in part to this uncertainty as much to the appealing romance of love and lovers. The charm of Valentine’s Day isn’t limited to modern western countries. You’ll find similar celebrations and legends in other cultures like
Joining young lovers
In the third century, Emperor Claudius II is said to have decided that it would be easier to recruit young men as soldiers if they weren’t distracted by family life. As the story goes, Claudius decreed that young men could not marry. Valentine, a Christian priest, refused to obey the emperor’s edict and continued to marry young couples. In retaliation, Claudius had Valentine put to death on February 14 sometime around the year 270. As a martyr, Valentine was eventually named a saint of the Roman Catholic Church and became the patron of young lovers.
The first Valentine
Another version of the Valentine’s Day legend says Valentine was the victim of Roman persecution of Christians and imprisoned for refusing to abandon his faith. Valentine was a favorite among Rome’s children, who tried to give him messages of encouragement by tossing notes through the window of his cell. Soon the jailer’s daughter began acting as a courier, bringing the children’s messages to Valentine. According to the legend, the two fell in love. When the time for his execution neared, Valentine penned a final note to the young woman and signed it “From your Valentine.”
The girlfriend lottery
Yet another legend attributes the origin of Valentine’s Day to efforts by the Catholic Church to suppress the ancient Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia. The feast began with the sacrifice of a dog for purification and a goat for fertility in a cave believed to have been the place where the mythical founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, were raised by a wolf. The goat’s hide was cut into strips by the Roman priests. The strips were then dipped in the goat’s blood and given to young men who ran about flailing the fields with the strips to promote a good crop – and also slapping young women with the strips of hide to insure they
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