HISTORY OF VALENTINE DAY CELEBRATION: All that needs to be known
For Years February 14 has been observed as saint valentine’s Day. There are so many myths about valentine’s day celebration and the history of saint valentine.
The history of Valentine’s Day and its saint remains mystical. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance.
But don’t be surprised to discover in this post that the history of valentine may not be romantic as we think.
WHO IS SAINT VALENTINE?
Saint Valentine is one or two (or even three) legendary Christian martyr. According, to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by the name of Valentine.
While one was a priest in Rome, another was a bishop in Terni. Nothing is known about the third St. Valentine except that he met his end in Africa. Surprisingly, all three of them were said to have been martyred on 14th February.
St Valentine is the patron saint of love.
What is common in all the myth about valentine’s Day is the fact that they all recognize the character ‘valentine’ as a saint and also as a martyr. According to all legends, saint valentine is a catholic saint and a martyr. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is not clear, the stories certainly show his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and romantic figure.
It’s no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France. Due to the variability in the different stories about valentine, it was removed from the Christian liturgical calendar in 1969.
To understand the history of saint valentine, I will show you all the legends about this romantic day called Valentine’s Day.
HISTORY OF VALENTINE DAY
Traditionally, February 14 is a day for lovers.
In medieval times young people in England, Scotland, and France used to assemble on Saint Valentine’s Eve. They drew names by chance from an urn. Each person then became the ‘‘valentine,’’ that is, the special friend of the one whose name he drew. It is still customary on this date to exchange gifts, many of them heart-shaped, as an expression of affection. Friends send candy, flowers, and greetings. Florists consider February 14th Valentine’s Day as one of their best business days.
LEGENDS OF VALENTINE
Legends of valentine! sounds like a movie (lol).
Anyway, there is a lot of legend about valentine and valentine’s Day celebration. You’ll find them very interesting, for that reason I decided to personally go detail on them.
1. SAINT VALENTINE AND EMPEROR CLAUDIUS II
During the lifetime of Valentine, the golden era of the Roman empire had almost come to an end.
The Roman empire was faced with oppositions and crisis from all sides, from the Gauls, Slavs, Huns, Turks and Mongolians from Northern Europe and Asia. The empire had grown too large to be shielded from external aggression and internal chaos with existing forces. You must have noticed that in some roman movies (like Gladiators)
Naturally, there was a great need for more and more capable men to be recruited as soldiers and officers to protect the nation from takeover.
When Claudius II became the emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, will not make good soldiers. He believed that single men made better soldiers than men with wives and families. So he issued a lawful decree forbidding marriage for young people to assure quality soldiers (maybe he was trying to produce an Unsullied kind of Army without castrating them).
The ban on marriage was a great shock for the Romans. But who wants to dare the Emperor?
The kindly bishop Valentine also realized the injustice of the decree. He saw the trauma of young lovers who gave up all hopes of being united in marriage. He planned to counter the monarch’s orders in secrecy. Whenever lovers thought of marrying, they went to Valentine who met them afterwards in a secret place and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. And thus he secretly performed many marriages for young lovers. But for how long will you be able to hide that?
It was only just a matter of time before Claudius the emperor came to know of this “friend of lovers,” “the patron saint of Love” and had him arrested.
While awaiting his sentence in prison, Valentine was approached by his jailor, Asterius. It was said that Valentine had some saintly abilities and one of them granted him the power to heal people. Asterius had a blind daughter and knowing of the miraculous powers of Valentine he requested the latter to restore the sight of his blind daughter.
The Catholic legend has it that Valentine did this through the vehicle of his strong faith, a phenomenon refuted by the Protestant version which agrees otherwise with the Catholic one. Whatever the fact is, it appears that when Claudius II met Valentine, he was said to have been impressed by the dignity and conviction of the latter. However, Valentine refused to agree with the emperor regarding the ban on marriage.
It is also said that the emperor also tried to convert Valentine to the Roman gods but was unsuccessful in his efforts.
Valentine refused to recognize Roman Gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully. This angered Claudius II who gave the order of execution of Valentine.
Meanwhile, a deep friendship had been formed between Valentine and Asterius’ daughter. It caused great grief to the young girl to hear of his friend’s imminent death.
It is said that just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper from his jailor, and signed a farewell message to her “From Your Valentine,” a phrase that lived ever after.
As per another legend, Valentine fell in love with the daughter of his jailer during his imprisonment. However, this legend is not given much importance by historians. See the next legendary story. It’s similar.
2. SAINT VALENTINE AND THE JAILERS DAUGHTER
This other legendary story goes like this.
Saint Valentine was a Roman priest and physician who was beheaded for his Apostolic zeal in year 269 when Gallienus was emperor of Rome. After the death of Christ, the early Christians were mistrusted by the Roman Civil authorities throughout the vast Roman Empire and lived under the constant threat of persecution.
Roman civil authority required its citizens to pay homage to their Emperor as though he were a god. They required all citizens to worship the Emperor and offer incense before his image knowing that faithful Christians would surely refuse. Failure to comply resulted in revealed identity.
Because of the Holy Zeal and open confession of faith of St. Valentine he was arrested and threatened with death by beheading if he did not repent of his treason against the state.
- other stories have it that the reason he was jailed was due to the same crime committed in the 1st legendary story
St. Valentine refused to repent and he was thrown into prison to await his end.
The jailer at the prison was deeply impressed by St. Valentine’s warm love and his kindness toward other prisoners and his captors who unjustly held him prisoner. The jailer began to befriend St. Valentine and he could see that St. Valentine was learned in all things.
St. Valentine was not only highly knowledgeable he also had great ability in teaching and encouraging others. Unbeknown to St. Valentine, the jailer had a beautiful young daughter who had a great thirst for learning although she had been blind since birth. When the jailer came to know and trust St. Valentine he told him about his daughter and how she’s yearning to know as much as possible about the world and its history.
After telling St. Valentine all about his daughter the jailer asked the Holy Saint if he would teach his daughter as much as possible while he was in prison under his guard. St. Valentine agreed and the jailer began bringing his daughter to the Saint each day so that she could spend time with him in his jail cell and learn about the wonderful world.
St valentine taught her about God and the prophets of the old.
When he realized that she was ready St. Valentine revealed to her the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God through His miraculous conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary, his birth and the revelation of the Holy Trinity at His baptism.
She received salvation and was baptized.
- At this point, some stories have it that he fell in love with the jailer’s daughters just like the first legendary story, others also said that he healed her but all the same she was very amazed by saint valentine.
Within a few days of her baptism, the time for St. Valentine’s execution was set. In those remaining days St. Valentine also composed a letter (valentine message) filled with the Divine Love of God for his spiritual child. That next day St. Valentine was beaten, tortured and then beheaded.
I left the best for the last. Check out the 3rd legend of valentine’s day. I put it to you, you will be amazed
3. VALENTINE AND THE FORMER PAGAN PRACTICE (LUPERCALIA)
This particular legend spoke little or nothing about St valentine but addressed the date February 14th for valentine’s Day celebration and gave hints on how valentine’s day started and how it got its tradition of sharing gifts.
Once upon a time, it was the custom for mothers who had just given birth to be unclean for sexual purposes for a specified number of days, depending on whether she bore a male or female child.
Semiramis happened to give birth to a male child, Nimrod and therefore would be unclean for 40 days. The 40th day after January 6 is February 15th.
February 15, which began on the evening of February 14, was the day on which the Lupercalia was celebrated.
- Lupercus: A very ancient Italian rustic deity; god of fertility identified with Faunus. The name means one who wards off the wolves. Resembles Pan.
- Lupercalia: Roman festival celebrated on February 15 to honour Lupercus. As a conclusion to their rites, the Luperci (priests of Lupercus), clad in goatskins, ran about Palatine Hill striking those they encountered, particularly women, with goatskin thongs. This was believed to ensure fertility and easy delivery.
The purification of the mother was the fertility ritual performed at the Lupercal, a cave below the Palatine Hill in Rome. Goats or dogs were sacrificed as her ritual offering for her uncleanness. The skins of these offerings were then used to confer fertility upon women.
The Februation was a rite of purification observed on February 15th, the very day upon which the mother of the husband was said to be now purified and to have appeared in public with her son/husband for the first time since his birth on January 6th.
The significance of this mythology was the fact that the mother was now purified; the mother was now able to have sexual relations again. The mother could again mate her husband, to fertilize the world.
The purification of the Mother was the fertility rite.
At a time where Christianity has swept the world in a relatively short time, as the histories of great religions go, the early missionaries faced an uphill task. The Pagans were reluctant to give up their false gods and ancient practices.
So the missionaries, unable to convert them easily to an entirely new code of worship, did the next best thing. They took the pagan festivals as they were and gradually grafted the observances of the New Faith onto these festivals and the rites and customs surrounding them.
This will shock you! The statues of the pagan gods were even baptized. Wow!
HOW DID VALENTINE’S DAY CELEBRATION START?
Valentine’s Day celebration derived its tradition or customs of the day from the old Roman February feast called the Lupercalia, at which young men and maidens drew partners by lot for the coming February feast.
Later this ancient festival custom was associated with the name of a Christian bishop, Valentine, who was martyred Feb. 14th, 271.
Other tradition attributes the observances of the day to the fact that it falls within the mating season for birds and is, therefore, an appropriate season for young people to choose their ‘‘valentines,’’ or lovers.
The Christian missionaries took each of these pagan festivals and veneered them with Christian respectability by changing their names. That is why today we have Christmas rather than the Saturnalia; Easter rather than the festival of the Goddess of the Dawn; and Valentine’s day rather than the Lupercalia; the festival of the purification of the mother.
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