Where exactly is the start of this holiday? No one really knows exactly, but there are some roots to the day. What we know about St. Valentine is that he was a jack of all trades. He was a man who secretly married couples when marriage was banned and forbidden. He was a priest of the Roman Empire, he helped those Christians that were persecuted during the reign of Claudius II. He was also a Catholic bishop of Terni. The sad ending for St. Valentine was that he was beheaded on Feb.14th.
The Catholic church does not honor St. Valentine because of the mystery and unidentifiable past of this man. The Catholic church dropped St. Valentine from the Roman calendar of official worldwide Catholic feasts in 1969. These days are meant to be honored for saints with a clear historical record. Although some parishes still do observe the feast of St. Valentine.
The known history about this love filled holiday starts back with the Roman festival of Lupercalia. This festival was celebrated on Feb.15th. For a long 800 years the Romans kept this day for the god Lupercus. On the day of Lupercalia a man would take a name written on a paper from a lottery, the woman’s name which he picked would be his sexual partner for the year.
When Pope Gelasius got word of this he was understandably under whelmed with the idea. To the dismay of many young men the Pope changed the lottery so that both men and women could take part. This time though they would draw the names of Saints that they would hope to emulate for the year. A more honorable tradition to be sure. They dedicated this new lottery and celebration to St. Valentine.
Although for the Roman men they continued to use this day to seek out the affections of women and it became tradition that they would hand write messages of love and admiration which included Valentine’s name.
In Europe during the Middle Ages a conventional belief was that birds in the middle of February would choose their mates. This is one theory of why the day is dedicated to love. People started to write, sing and send small gifts of affection to their beloveds. Legend has it that the very first “real” Valentine was sent by Charles the duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415 as he was imprisoned in the Tower on London.
No matter what the history is this is known as a day for love, and laughter. A time to reflect upon our relationships and honor each other for all the hard work put into keeping it together. Long or short — old or young, we all love. So love a lot and enjoy your Valentines day!
More information about this holidays and many others can be found atThe Holiday Spot website or from American Catholic’s official site.