Every February 14, couples and partners express their love for each other extraordinarily. It usually starts with a box of chocolate, a candle light dinner, and a room full of flower petals to end the day in fiery romance. The day has come again for couples from all around the world to shed love to the face of the Earth once again in Valentine’s day.
When did Valentine’s day start? Well, it’s quite unclear and there are quite a few versions of the history of Valentine’s day.
This one story echoes throughout the years as the most popular story of Saint Valentine, a roman bishop after which February the 14th was named.
The story began in 3rd century Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II who thought that marriage weakens the mind of his soldiers. Without further ado, he issued an edict that forbade marriage.
This edict was meant to be some sort of quality control to ensure that his soldiers aren’t bound by anything that can make his soldiers think twice before giving up their lives for the Emperor, including marriage.
Of course, many disagreed with the edict.
But hey, what can they do? We can be pretty sure that freedom of speech did not exist back then.
Saint Valentine, being a bishop that marries lovers, had a problem with it. But then again, there’s nothing he could do except keep marrying couples without Emperor Claudius II knowing.
So he did just that.
Saint Valentine held the law of the church and helped lovers who wanted to marry, uniting them in a holy matrimony.
But he merely prolonged the inevitable. The Emperor heard about the deeds of the sneaky bishop and had him arrested. The poor, but kind bishop was sentenced to death.
During his imprisonment, Saint Valentine’s Jailor, Asterius, approached him for the sake of his blind daughter.
He asked the bishop to use his saintly powers to heal his daughter’s vision. Not surprisingly, Asterius’ daughter could see again after a long time. They became close friends afterwards. Some stories even say that they fell in love.
Before the day of his execution, Saint Valentine was granted one last wish. He asked for a pen (or a feather and a cup of ink?) and a paper. He wrote a letter to Asterius’ daughter to remind her of the love of Christ and all the blessings that would come with it. He ended that letter with the phrase:
‘…. from your Valentine.”
Anyway, here’s an animated video we made based on this version of the story:
In another story, Valentine’s day is an effort to ‘Christianize’ the pagan festival: Lupercalia, which was celebrated February 15 around 270 A.D.
Lupercalia was a pagan festival that begins with members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, gathering 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.
They would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. To complete the ceremony, they must strip the goat’s hide into strips and proceed by dipping them into the sacrificial blood. Then they would use these blood-coated goat hide strips to slap women and crop fields, believing that this would bring fertility.
Of course, sacrifices and dipping goat hides in blood did not quite make the impression of being ‘Christian’ enough. That’s why Valentine’s day (regardless of Saint Valentine’s story being true or not) is celebrated on February 14 to eclipse the pagan festivity and slowly erasing it through the years.
However, it’s way easier to believe the first version of the story. It has strong resemblance with how Valentine’s day is perceived and celebrated these days.
Regardless of the history, Valentine’s day is a day worth celebrating. Not exclusively for those with lovers, but for everyone.