How Valentines Day Came to Be? Posted on 11 Feb 14:26
How Valentines Day Came To Be?
By Michael Wernicke
Henkerman - Stories, News & Exclusives.
With Valentines Day just around the corner, we thought we would dedicate a blog article to finding out how Valentines Day came into being.
In modern times, Valentine’s Day on February 14th is the day most of us recognise to express affection to our lovers with greetings and gifts. However do you know how it all started?
Valentine's Day is named after Saint Valentine, a Catholic priest who lived in Rome in the 3rd Century. There are many stories about St Valentine and over time these stories grew into the legend we know today.
At the time of Valentine's life, many Romans were converting to Christianity, but the Emperor Claudius II was a pagan and created strict laws about what Christians were allowed to do. Claudius believed that Roman soldiers should be completely devoted to Rome and therefore passed a law preventing them from marrying. However, St Valentine began to marry these soldiers in secret Christian ceremonies and this was the beginning of his reputation for believing in the importance of love above all else.
Eventually, Valentine was found out and jailed for his crimes against Claudius. While imprisoned, Valentine cared for his fellow prisoners and also his jailor's blind daughter. Legend has it that Valentine cured the girl's blindness and that his final act before being executed was to write her a love message signed ‘from your Valentine'. Valentine was executed on 14 February in the year 270.
It wasn't until more than 200 years later that 14 February was proclaimed St Valentine's Day. By this time Rome had become Christian and the Catholic Church was determined to stamp out any remaining paganism. A pagan fertility ritual was held in February each year and the Pope abolished this festival and instead proclaimed 14th February Saint Valentine's Day, thus establishing this feast day on the Catholic Calendar of Saints.
The poet Chaucer in the Middle Ages was the first to link St Valentine's Day back to its roots of romantic love. This was the beginning of the tradition of courtly love, a ritual of expressing love and admiration, usually in secret. This custom began to spread throughout Europe and stories grew about a High Court of Love where female judges would rule on issues related to love on 14 February each year. Historians believe that these meetings were in fact gatherings where people read love poetry and played games of flirtation.
The practice of sending love messages developed into people sending special cards expressing their affection. These cards were beautiful creations handmade by the sender and individually designed to show how much they loved the recipient. Cards would usually contain sentimental verse, proclaiming the beauty of the receiver and how much they were loved.
Saint Valentine's Day cards were decorated with pictures of cupid, hearts and flowers and trimmed with lace and ribbon. These images are still used today to symbolise love and are recognised all over the world.
Now Valentines is celebrated around the world including Australia, United States, Britain, Canada, Argentina, France, Mexico, and South Korea - often with gifts, flowers, dinners and still our messages of love. In the Philippines, this day is the most common wedding anniversary, and mass weddings of hundreds of couples are not uncommon on that date. The holiday has expanded to expressions of affection among relatives and friends. Many school children exchange valentines cards and gifts on this day.