Many people across the world are probably doing last minute preparations to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their special ones on February 14. Widely believed and commemorated as the day of expressing love and taking special care to let your significant other know that you care, Valentine’s Day is much anticipated by couples across the world. Spending time with each other, exchanging gifts, chocolates, wine and other finer things in life are commonplace. However, there is more to the dedicated day of love than that meets the eyes. For those who don’t know, it is named after a mysterious saint. Additionally, the tradition of Valentine’s finds its origins in a Roman festival of fertility known as Lupercalia, according to History.com.
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History of Valentine’s Day
Many believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated to commemorate the death anniversary of Saint Valentine who died in mid-February in 270 AD. Others believe that the celebrations began as the Church’s attempt to ‘christianise’ the Lupercalia festival celebrations. The Roman festival was dedicated to Faunus, the god of agriculture as well as the Roman founders of Romulus and Remus. The celebrations included men picking names of women from a box and they would become a pair during the festival. Sometimes, this would also culminate in marriage. By the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius chose the time of Lupercalia celebrations as the date to commemorate Saint Valentine, thus leading to the association of Valentine’s Day with love and romance.
Who is St Valentine and why is Valentine’s Day named after him?
Many historical texts suggest that the saint whose name is associated with the celebration could probably have been more than one man. Roman Catholic Church officially recognised Valentine as a saint and he died around 270 AD. He is also believed to be a priest who helped Christian couples who were in love with each other to secretly get married and was hence, beheaded by Emperor Claudius II. The emperor had prohibited men from getting married as he thought single men made for more dedicated and better soldiers. Valentine was against this idea and would therefore, facilitate their weddings. Another theory is that St Valentine could be the Bishop of Terni, who was martyred on Rome’s outskirts, again, by Claudius II. Many even believe that these two could be the same person.
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Another interesting theory is that St Valentine is one of the characters in the writings of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. He would infuse real-life events with the fictional characters and would leave many confused about the authenticity of these records. Before he published a poem in which he mentions St Valentine, there is apparently no actual record of Valentine’s Day.