Did you know that the bouquets, chocolates, and gifts you purchase every year during Valentine's Day is in the name of a martyr and has its roots in a Pagan festival tradition of animal sacrifice?
According to Catholic Church traditions, there are a few saints named Valentine. One story paints a picture of a priest who secretly performed marriages for lovers after the Roman Emperor, Claudius II, forbade them, convinced that only single men made the best soldiers. Claudius II ordered Valentine be put to death.
Other tales of Valentine suggest that he helped save Christians who were victim to the harsh torture of Roman prisons. According to one legend, Valentine sent the first "valentine" greeting to his lover while imprisoned and signed it "From your Valentine."
Like many legends, the facts if any, always seem to be immersed within a colorful and glorified story that transcends truth and time periods. Whoever this Valentine was, his story continued into the Middle Ages and he would become the most popular of English and French saints.
Valentine's Day began as a Pagan festival called Lupercalia, celebrating fertility and dedicated to Roman gods. The festival consisted of goat sacrifices, the stripping of the goat hide, and after dipping the hide in blood, gently slapping women and crop fields with the bloody hide.
Lupercalia was later outlawed at the end of the 5th century and Pope Gelasius declared Valentine's Day to be February 14th. Only much later would Valentine's Day come to represent a day of love.
After finding out about the history of Valentine's Day, do you feel any different about it? What are some of your Valentine's Day traditions?
Written by Stephanie Briggs