Valentine’s Day History
A Brief History of Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is arguably the second most celebrated day after Christmas. It is closely associated with romance today, but its origin had absolutely nothing romantic.

It is celebrated globally every February the 14th especially by lovers, with special gifts such as flowers, cards, rings, candy, and other gifts exchanged to commemorate the day.

St. Valentine – The Person

Saint Valentine; the patron of the Valentine’s Day has a mysterious history according to many journals and publications.

He was a Christian legend recognized greatly even in the Ancient Roman tradition, but how really did he become the big day’s patron?

Theory one

In the history of the Catholic Church, there are three saints named Valentine who happen to be celebrated martyrs today.

It is alleged that one Valentine served as a priest in Rome in the third century during which time Emperor Claudius II ruled that bachelors and single soldiers performed better in the military than their married counterparts.

Valentine on his part maintained that the emperor’s rule was an injustice and therefore continued marrying couples in secret hideouts.

When Emperor Claudius found out, he ordered for Valentine to be put to death.

Theory two

Another version of Valentine’s death alleges that he was killed as a punishment for helping Christians escape Roman prisons which were believed to be extremely harsh.

One of his colleagues actually disclosed that Valentine sent out the first valentine greeting from prison to a young girl he had fallen in love with.

The young girl happened to be the daughter of his tormentor who had visited him in jail, and before his death, he wrote her a romantic letter signed “From your Valentine”.

This is a common expression to this date.

However murky the stories behind Valentine’s patron could be, they all portrayed Valentine as a loving, kind, humane, and above all; a romantic figure.

Valentine’s Day – The origin

It is popularly believed that Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the 14th of February to mark either the death or burial of Valentine which took place as early as A.D 270.

However, others believe that the Christian church adopted the day in the middle of February for purposes of neutralizing the pagan celebration and Christianizing it.

Initially, February 15th commemorated Lupercalia; a fertility fete dedicated to the god of agriculture according to the Roman tradition.

Lupercalia survived even during the early days of Christianity but was later outlawed for being unchristian.

This happened at the end of the 5th century, when February 14th was declared St. Valentine’s Day by Pope Gelasius.

Initially, Valentine’s Day was not themed a love celebration day but it came to be associated deeply with romance much later.

Ironically, or coincidentally, during the Middle Ages, mid-February was commonly believed to be the time when birds started mating in England and France, hence Valentine’s Day was supposed to have a romantic theme.

Valentine messages are as old as the Middle Ages but the documented ones started appearing after 1400.

Charles, the Duke of Orleans wrote Valentine’s poem to his wife as he was serving a prison sentence in Tower of London in 1415, a poem that exists to date. It has been incorporated into the British Library in London as part of the Manuscript collection of the library.

Flash forward to a few years later, King Henry V sent Valentine’s letter to Catherine of Valois.

Valentine’s Day became famous in the 17th century with countries like America, Australia, Mexico, Canada, France, Great Britain, and other European countries adopting different methods of commemorating the lovers’ day.

Cards and other special gifts have since been introduced to mark the day.

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