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The Origins of Valentine’s Day

The Origins of Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day is well known for its themes of love and affection for others, but, have you ever wondered where this holiday emerged from? In this article, we will delve into the dark history of Valentine’s Day, dating back to the Roman Empire, and how it has changed over time. St. Valentine goes back to the rule of Claudius the Second, who reigned from 268-270 AD. Claudius believed that single soldiers would perform better than those who were married. Due to this opinion, he banned soldiers from getting married. As a result of this, St. Valentine, who was a priest at the time, would conduct marriages in secret, to not get caught. Unfortunately, Claudius II found out about Valentine’s actions and sentenced him to death. He was martyred and killed on February 14 which is one reason why we celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 14th. Another story suggests that St. Valentine was thrown in prison, as a bishop, for helping and aiding Christians who were being persecuted at that time. During his imprisonment, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, who would frequently visit him. Before he died he wrote a card to her, signing the letter with the phrase, “From your Valentine”. The phrase is still commonly used on Valentine’s Day today. 

Another story suggests that a different St. Valentine was a bishop who was also beheaded on February 14th.  These romantic actions introduced more themes of love and ultimately made St. Valentine famous throughout England and France. This led the Pope to make him the patron saint of love. 

The day he was executed became his feast day, that being February 14th. An Englishman named Chaucer also wrote a poem dedicated to Saint Valentine’s feast day, declaring it a romantic celebration. The poem and the tales of him being the patron saint of love may have sparked the idea of turning Saint Valentine’s feast day from a religious observance day to a secular celebration of love on Valentine’s Day. The tradition of exchanging notes and love letters became quite popular, especially among the upper class of medieval society. As time moved on, letters were modernized and made available to everyone. People would soon give chocolates to their loved ones on Valentine’s Day because of chocolate’s warm and soft feeling, flowers are also given as a symbol of love and romance. Anyone and everyone could participate in this now commercialization of a holiday thanks to the Saint that started it all.

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