Created on: January 29, 2013 Last Updated: January 30, 2013
English-speaking countries celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, every 14 February. Apart from being a Catholic saint’s day, it is a day to send cards and small presents to those you love. Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day enthusiastically sending cards to family members, friends, pets and others. British people send cards to lovers, life partners, spouses and to those they nurse romantic feelings towards. There are many legends related to St.Valentine’s Day.
There is some confusion about the saint, to whom the day relates, since there are three martyrs called Valentine associated with 14 February. One of these was the bishop of Interamna (Modern day Terni, Italy), another was a priest in Rome, and the third lived and died in Africa and little is known about him.
The priest helped Christians suffering persecution by Emperor Claudius II and secretly married Christians defying an Imperial order in doing so. The authorities arrested Father Valentine and his jailers tried to make him renounce Catholicism. When he refused to do so, Claudius ordered Valentine executed and he was beheaded on February 14 in around 270. One legend says that the night before his execution Valentine left a letter for his Jailer’s daughter, who had been kind to him, and signed it “from your Valentine”.
The bishop was under house arrest in Judge Asterius’ house discussing religion with him. The Judge brought his blind daughter to Valentine and said that, if he could make her see, Valentine could have anything he wanted. Valentine reputedly laid his hands over the child’s eyes and restored her sight. Valentine asked the Judge to destroy all the Roman idols around his house, fast for three days and convert to Catholicism. He also released all Christian prisoners under his control. Valentine was arrested a second time and sent to the Emperor Claudius II, becoming quite a favourite with him until Valentine tried to convert him to Catholicism. Claudius ordered his execution, which took place February 14, 269.
St. Valentine’s Day in the United Kingdom may have replaced a much older Celtic Festival. Certainly, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia on 15 February. All Rome’s single women would put their names in a big urn. The single men would each take a name out of the urn, and he and the girl whose name he had picked from the urn, would be paired for a year. People followed a similar custom in medieval England, when bachelors
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