A short history of Valentine’s Day:
Hoping to get a box of chocolates from your sweetheart today? Or perhaps you plan to hand out a dozen Valentines to your friends. You’re not alone. There will be people all over the world today celebrating this ‘most romantic day of the year’. So why is it called Valentine’s Day? And why do we celebrate it in the middle of February, which is still winter in most of the Northern Hemisphere?
Historians believe that Valentine’s Day was originally based off the ancient Roman Holiday of Lupercalia. In Rome, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus. Here is an excerpt from the History of Valentine’s Day, found on history.com:
“To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.”
Lupercalia was traditionally celebrated on February 15th. Some believe the Catholic Church may have opted to commemorate St. Valentine’s Day in order to “Christianize” the ancient Roman Holiday, while others believe that February 14th to be the anniversary of St. Valentine’s death or burial. Here is another excerpt from history.com explaining St. Valentine of the Catholic Church:
“The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.”
Read the full story here: http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day.
Happy Valentine’s Day from Silver City Radio and remember, whatever your plans, please be safe and responsible.