The history of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s day is for a lot of us the occasion to exchange love vows, gifts, chocolate and of course, flowers. But do we really know when it all began? Why was Feburary 14th declared the “day of love”?
It appears that even in antiquity, Febuary was already the month where love and fertility was celebrated. In the roman calendar, February 15th was actually the day of LUPERCUS, the god of fertility. Priests would sacrifice a goat for their god. Lupecrus priests would run down the streets and touch the people that were present. For women, being touched by them was supposed to help fertility and ease their delivery.
As for Valentine, history shows that there are possibly three different Valentines that can be related to the origin of the name and the day. But for the majority of historians, the Patron of Valentine’s day was Valentinus, a Christian priest in the roman period that helped young lovers get married. It was forbidden for them at that time because the Empereur Claude thought that men in love made poor soldiers (too sensitive and afraid of leaving their home). Valentinus was made prisonner when he got caught. During his capitvity it was said that he accomplished a miracle when he gave her sight back to Julia, his jailer’s daughter. Nervertheless, he was to be decapitated on the 14th of Feburary 268. Some say that just before his exectution he send Julia a letter in a heart shape and it was signed “from your Valentine”. it was only in 1496 that Valentinus was canonized by Pope Alexander XI.
The tradition of offering loved ones gifts on this special day goes back to the end of the Middle-Age. On that day in England, couples were paired up randomly in the aristocracy. A young girl was matched with a young man and during the day they had “obligations” toward each other. They had to exchange secret little gifts and poems. Little by little it began to be a lovers celebration rather than just affectionate friendships.
Since the XVIII this tradition has spread to Great-Britain then to North America where the celebration took on the name of “Valentine’s Day“.
As you can see, Valentine’s day is not a modern invention but it may have become a little bit too commercial.
I hope you receive and give a lot of love on that special occasion. Happy Valentine’s Day!