The Origins and Dark History of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is often celebrated every February 14th. What celebration was actually done at that time?
Some people interpret it as a celebration of affection, others point out as “deliberate warnings” to boost sales of cards, chocolates, flowers, and other items deemed to represent expressions of love.
Whatever one’s opinion of Valentine, there is history behind that day.
From the names, the Catholic Church recognizes that there are three saints or saints named Valentine or Valentinus. “And all three are martyrs,” quoted the Guardian website. The three men from the 200s era were killed horribly.
One story says, once the Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade young soldiers to marry so they would not “fizzle out” on the battlefield.
However, Bishop Valentine violated the order and married a couple secretly. He was executed when the ruler found out about the secret marriage.
When he was jailed, legend says that the man from Genoa then fell in love with the daughter of the person who imprisoned him. Before being executed sadistically, he made a love letter to his lover, which was closed with the words, ‘From your Valentine’.
Another Valentine was a religious leader in the Roman Empire who helped Christians who were persecuted during the reign of Claudius II. While incarcerated, he restored the sight of a blind girl – who fell in love with him. Valentine was executed by beheaded on February 14.
The third is the pious bishop of Terni, who was also tortured and executed during the reign of Claudius II, also on February 14 – in a different year.
Apart from legend, the connection between Saint Valentine and love only appeared much later. In the poem Geoffrey Chaucer, English poet and famous book writer, ‘The Canterbury Tales’. According to Andy Kelly, an English linguist from the University of California, Los Angeles, who wrote the book ‘Chaucer and Cult of St. Valentine’.
Chaucer, wrote a poem entitled Parliament of Fowls (1382), to celebrate the engagement of King Richard II.
In the poem, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on May 3, not February 14. “That is the day that all birds choose their mates in a year,” Kelly said. “Shortly afterwards, within a generation, people took the idea of celebrating Valentine’s Day as a day of affection.”
Valentine who became Chaucer’s reference may be Saint Valentine of Genoa who died on May 3. But people at that time were not very familiar with that figure.
They are more familiar with the story of Valentine from Rome and Terni who were executed on February 14 – which were then associated with love.
Stories from Ancient Rome
The story of Valentine’s Day can also be traced from the Ancient Roman era, related to the belief in paganism. Every February 13-15, ancient Romans celebrate Lupercalia. The ceremony began with the sacrifice of two male goats and a dog.
Then, half-naked men ran on the streets, whipping young girls with ropes made of freshly sacrificed goat skin. Although it may sound like a sadomasochistic heretical ritual, it was carried out by the Romans until AD 496 as a rite of purification and fertility.
“The ceremony is believed to make women more fertile,” said Noel Lenski, an offer from the University of Colorado, Boulder, as published by USA Today.
The peak of Lupercalia on February 15, at the foot of the Palatine Hill, next to the cave – which is believed to be the place where the female wolf feeds Romulus and Remus – the founder of the City of Rome in Roman mythology.
In 496, Pope Gelasius I banned Lupercalia and declared February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day.