Every February 14th, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday?
The first legend, and perhaps the best known, began in Rome, when the Emperor, Claudius II, was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns. “Claudius the Cruel” as he was called, was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. He believed that the reason was that Roman men did not want to leave their loves or families. So, he cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome!
The good Saint Valentine, who was a priest in Rome, in the year 269 A.D., together with his friend Saint Marius, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.
When Valentine's actions were discovered, he was sentenced to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off.
But while in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl, who may have been his jailor's daughter, who visited him during his confinement. Before his death on the 14th day of February, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed
In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honor St. Valentine.
in ancient Rome, on February 14th, a holiday to honor Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. Then, the following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia.
In those days, the lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, on the eve of the festival of Lupercalia, the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.
In the United States, Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending the first valentine cards. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800's and now ... well .. you know the rest....