Thursday, February 14, 2013

Saint Valentine's Day

  Who was "Saint Valentine"?  What started Valentines Day?  Why do we Celebrate it?  When was it first celebrated?  Where did it originate?  How did Valentines Day get so twisted?

Who was Saint Valentine? - Saint Valentine was a Priest during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius Caesar.  We do not know when he was born but he died a martyr by beheading, after he was beaten and stoned, February 14, 269 or 270 AD.

What started Valentines Day? - Caesar was fighting many wars at the time of Priest "Valentinus" and forbid the marriage of young people.  He believed that the young men would fight more valiantly if they were not thinking about their wife and children back home.  So, as you can naturally expect, people started getting married secretly.  Not even the most powerful man at the time could destroy what God had established.  While he was in prison for performing illegal marriages, God, through Valentine, restored the jailer's daughters sight.  As a result, the jailer's whole family was baptized.  Legend has it that the day before he was executed he wrote a note to her and signed it "Love from your Valentine".  Now you know how the "love letter" part of Valentines Day was started.
Why do we celebrate Valentines Day? - We celebrate Saint Valentines Day for the same reason people celebrate Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Saint Patricks Day and others.  To remember those people before us that greatly contributed to making the world a better place.

When was it first celebrated? - Pope Gelasius I, set aside February 14 for the commemoration of Saint Valentine.  (Which Valentine he wanted to commemorate we don't know.  There were at least three Valentine martyrs).  February 13-15 started as a pagan, Roman holiday called "Lupercalia" or "Februatio" and after the Pope condemned it he replaced it with a commemoration holiday.  
(Many pagan holidays, Christmas for example, originated as a pagan holiday.)
Where did Valentines Day originate? - I have done research on this question and could find nothing.  But I did do some looking up on Pope Gelasius I.  He was from the northern part of Africa,  but he was not from the "Aethiopes" (darker skinned people) area of Africa, so Valentines Day was probably first celebrated in Northern Africa.  But, he was Pope, so it might have first been celebrated in Rome/Italy.

How did Valentines Day get so twisted? -  As I said two paragraphs up,  Saint Valentines Day started as a pagan holiday that celebrated fertility and purity.  And, February 14, they say, is the day that birds mate!  So the holiday gradually turned back into a holiday of love.  No one knows when the "turning point" in history was.  

Intriguing Facts
  • Saint Valentines Day was never made and official holiday
  • The first mass produced valentine cards were made by hand, by factory workers
  • February was named after the Roman holiday, Februaria, which means, purification
  • Valentine himself was never married!