History of St. Valentine’s Day
History of St. Valentine’s Day
There are many variations in the history of just precisely how St. Valentine’s was begun. History reports that there are at least three Catholic saints by the name of Valentine!
The history of Saint Valentine’s Day begins in Rome. It was the ancient Romans who first celebrated what later became what we know as Valentine’s Day. On February 14th, Romans honored Juno, the queen of Roman gods and goddesses. The following day began the feast of Lupercalia, which honored the Roman god Luperus, the god of wolves. On the 14th, the evening before the beginning of the feast, the names of young Roman girls were written down and placed into the container. Then each young man would draw out the name of a girl, and she would become his sweetheart for that year.
During Roman rule, the emperor canceled all marriages and engagements as he was finding it difficult to find soldiers that were willing to leave their wives and families. However, around the year 270 AD, one priest named Valentine continued to carry out these marriages secretly. Valentine, the priest, was finally found out and was executed on February 14th, which was coincidentally the eve of the feast of Lupercalia. Valentine was proclaimed a martyr and made a saint by the church.
It was during this time that the early church wanted to do away with many of the pagan festivals and traditions. One of these was the Feast of Lupercalia. To do this, the church began to substitute the names of Christian saints, rather than using the names of young girls in the annual drawing of names. Young men were then to pick the name of the saint to emulate for the year, rather than choose a girl to be their sweetheart! As well, to replace the pagan god Lupercus, they chose a saint to honor that day: Saint Valentine.
Valentine’s day history says that just before Valentine was executed, he wrote a brief message signing it ‘From your Valentine. Since that time, the traditions of Valentine’s day have grown, making February 14th the official day to express your feelings for your loved ones with cards and gifts.
The first Valentine’s Day card was supposedly sent in 1415 by Charles the Duke of Orleans. He sent his message to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Closer to home, a woman by the name of Miss Esther Howland is thought to have sent the very first Valentine’s Day cards in the United States. The first commercial Valentine’s Day was introduced in the late 1800s, and today, Valentine’s Day is popular with almost everyone from school children on up, exchanging valentines and gifts.
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