What is Valentine’s Day?
February 14th, clearly recognized by all the people as Valentine’s day, is celebrated in most cases with a person’s significant other. It is celebrated to signify their never-ending love for each other. It can also be celebrated with a person’s friends and families as it is a day to express love, feelings, and trust.
Origin of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s day is an international festival that is celebrated all over the world. This festival originated from the Roman festival of Lupercalia. It dates back to ancient times, to be more specific, the year 496 A.D.
It is celebrated to mark the death anniversary of one of the Christian legends, Saint Valentine. Saint Valentine was a total of 14 saints who sacrificed their life for Ancient Rome. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14th February.”
According to a legend, in the year 270 A.D. Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. Valentine was a caring, compassionate, and understanding priest, who was popular among the public. He was looked up as a good role model and was often asked for opinions and advice.
Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor was also recognized as Claudius the Cruel, because of the terrorization he had caused during his period. The emperor was having a hard time getting soldiers to join his military league and to maintain a strong army. To get rid of this problem, the Emperor decided that men were better off without their wives and families, he prohibited marriage for young men.
Valentine after the decision of the Emperor vowed to secretly continue performing marriages for young lovers. When the Emperor discovered that Valentine was performing marriages secretly, he ordered that Valentine be sentenced to death.
Valentine was then arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, where he was beaten to death with clubs. He then was beheaded in front of all the people. The sentence was carried out on 14th February, 270 A.D, thus, marking the day to be celebrated as Valentine’s day.
One legend says that Valentine was killed for attempting to help and free the Christians from the harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. Valentine could not stand the sight of the prisoners being tortured. However, he was caught and sentenced to prison. Valentine was serving his time as a prisoner, where he fell in love with a girl, who used to bring him his food. She was a young and unfortunately a blind woman.
The woman and Valentine used to spend long hours talking to each other and eventually fell in love. One day, Valentine put his hand through the bars of his cell and touched the lids of her closed eyes to heal her. The next moment she opened her eyes, she was able to see.
But unfortunately, the girl she was in love with happened to be the jailor’s daughter. On finding out about this action, Valentine was executed on the 14th of February. Before his execution, he wrote a final letter to the girl and signed the letter “from your Valentine”, which is an expression still used today in gift cards that are sent to the significant other on February the 14th.
Another legend says that Valentine was a Roman Christian who defied the emperor. This legend states that Valentine was attempting to convert people to Christianity. This was considered to be a serious crime during this time period. Christianity was not welcome in Roman society, and the Christians were persecuted. This did not dissuade Valentine, and he continued to gain converts.
While trying to convert Romans to Christianity, Valentine would enter prisons and marry the Christians who were held confined there. According to legends, Emperor Claudius II was very fond of Valentine and was willing to turn a blind eye to the man’s activity.
However, Valentine became overconfident and attempted to convert Claudius into Christianity. Claudius on this action enraged and ordered Valentine to renounce his faith to death. Valentine refused and chose to be martyred instead and was executed on the February of 14th outside Flaminian Gate for his crimes.
Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is dark and unclear, all the legends highlight his appeal as a heroic and a romantic figure. Because of this reputation, that was created around his name, Valentine would become one of the most popular and loved saints across England and France. For his great services, he was recognized as a saint after his death.
Valentine’s day came into existence when Pope Gelasius decided to stop the Feast of Lupercalia, which was an annual festival in the city of Rome, celebrated from 13th February to 15th February. It was celebrated to avert all evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility.
Even though there are multiple legends about the history of Valentine’s day, all the stories revolve around love, whether be it for friends, families, or strangers. Today’s people celebrate Valentine’s day by exchanging gifts and spending time with their loved ones. Valentine’s day is popular among teenagers and people in their early 20s. They celebrate this festival by exchanging love messages, gifts, and chocolates to their loved ones.