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History of Valentine’s Day

Valentine Day which is also known as Saint Valentine Day is celebrated all across the globe on 14th of February every year. This day is a very special day for the lovers to express their heartfelt feelings in front of their partners.

We all know that Valentine Day is observed as a day of love, but this special day also has various stories associated with this history and origin which has its roots in Christian as well as in Roman tradition.

The most popular story that is related to Valentine’s Day dates back to third century in Rome. During this period, Emperor Claudius II who was also known as “Claudius the Cruel” wanted to have a strong military and he thought that single men would prove to be better soldiers as compared to the ones who have families and kids. Thus he ordered that there will be no engagements and marriages in Rome. During this period in the year 269 AD when marriages were outlawed by Emperor Claudius II, there was a priest in Rome called Saint Valentine who realised that this was an injustice to the soldiers and thus he along with his friend called Saint Maurius performed the marriages of the young lovers in secret without the knowledge of the Emperor.

5Later on when Emperor came to know about the actions of Saint Valentine of conducting secret marriages, he sentenced him to death and ordered that his head should be cut off. During the time period when Saint Valentine was imprisoned it is believed that a young girl who was possibly his jailor’s daughter visited the saint in prison during the confinement with whom Saint fell in love.
On 14th of February when Saint was put to death, it is believed that Saint wrote a letter to his young lover and on this letter he signed “From your Valentine”. Thus in the year 496 A.D., in order to honour St. Valentine the Pope Gelasius declared the day as St. Valentine’s Day.

Another popular story that relates to the history of Valentine’s Day dates back in Ancient Rome. During this period the Queen of Roman God and Goddesses called Juno was there. The people of Rome also considered Juno as the Goddess of marriage and Women and in order to honour her, 14th February was observed as a holiday and then from next day i.e. 15th of February, the Feast of Lupercalia starts.

In ancient Rome, the young boys and girl had a very strict and a separate life but on the Eve of Lupercalia the Roman girls names were written on paper slips and then these slips were placed in the jars. Then the young man of the Roman would take out a slip from the jar and would spend the entire duration of the festival with the girl whose name was there on the skip. The young man and woman at times would also spend an entire year and they would often fall in love with each other and then would later get married as well.

Besides these two popular stories there are many other legends associated with the special day of Valentine.

If we talk about the oldest association of Valentine with love then we would refer to the poem that was written by Geoffrey Chaucer in order to honour the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England.

The poem of Chaucer in Parlement of Foules( 1382) stated
“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

The meaning of these lines are “For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate”.

If we consider the modern times history of Valentine’s Day then it would date back to 1797, when “The Young Man’s Valentine Writer” was issued by a British publisher, which consists of the sentimental verses for the lovers who were not able to compose them on their own. Then limited number of cards that contained the sketches and the verses were produced by the printers and these were called “mechanical valentines”. Moreover with the reduced postal rates in the next century, people found it more convenient to mail the Valentines.

Patrick Cooper

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