Valentine’s Day is the day to express love, gratitude and be romantic. It is celebrated on February 14, mostly by couples, to express their devotion to each other. For years, the day is mainly celebrated by couples who express their feelings towards each other and mark a romantic journey together. However, the legend behind the Valentine’s Day celebration has not been about love and couples since time immemorial.
As we celebrate the day, here is looking at an interesting history behind the day.
1. Many a Valentine:Most believe that there lived one Saint Valentine, who was executed by the Romans and wrote one last letter to his beloved from prison. In reality, there were many martyred saints named Valentine. Two among them, namely Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni are celebrated on February 14. Bollandist Society, however, as noted by The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, considers them to be the same person.
As per the Catholic Encyclopaedia, there was also a third Saint Valentine, who was martyred in a Rome occupied African colony. Not much is known about him.
2. Martyrdom:As per a legend, Saint Valentine of Rome secretly performed weddings for Roman soldiers under Claudius II, who were forbidden to marry. He was imprisoned and executed on February 14 in the year 270 A.D. While in prison, Valentine restored the eyesight of his jailor Asterius’s daughter Julia. He supposedly wrote a farewell letter to her and signed it off with the words, “from your Valentine”.
3. Birds:February is the month in which the winter gives way to spring. Male birds begin singing to find mates for life. Among human beings, the act of courting a potential life partner is equated to this avian activity and Saint Valentine’s martyrdom celebrations got associated with finding mates on February 14.
4. Geoffrey Chaucer:Scholars believe that Geoffrey Chaucer’s late 14th-century poem, The Parliament of Fowls, which had a line about birds choosing their mates on St. Valentine’s Day, led to the creation of Valentine’s Day in its modern form.
5. Lupercalia:Starting in pre-Roman times, a pastoral celebration was held from February 13 through 15, in honour of the fertility deity Lupercus. Animals were sacrificed and women were whipped with animal skins in the belief that it would help in childbirth. After Christianity replaced pagan religions, Valentine’s Day replaced Lupercalia.