Every February we celebrate Valentine's Day by giving flowers, candy and cards to those we love. We do this in honor of St. Valentine. You may be wondering, "Who is St. Valentine"? Time to brush up on your Valentine's history!
There are different ideas as to where or how the celebration of Valentine's Day began. The Roman's celebrated a festival called Lupercalia on February 15. This festival was held to ward off the danger of wolves to their flocks and honored their God Lupercalia. Some people think that Valentine's Day is based on this festival.
Another legend is that St. Valentine was a priest who served during third century Rome. During that time, there was an Emperor who ruled Rome named Claudius II. Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those that were married and outlawed marriage for all young men serving in his army. Supposedly, Valentine, decided this decree just wasn't fair and chose to marry young couples secretly. When Emperor Claudius II found out about Valentine's actions he had him impisoned, and later put to death. Some stories say that the young couples, who Valentine had married, gave flowers and letters to Valentine when they visited him in the prison.
In a slightly different version of the legend, Valentine was an imprisoned man who fell in love with his jailor's daughter. Before he was put to death he sent the first 'valentine' to his love when he wrote her a letter and signed it 'Your Valentine'. These words are still used on cards today.
Perhaps we'll never know the true identity and story behind the man named St. Valentine, but this much is for sure...February has been the month to celebrate love for a long time, dating way back to the Middle Ages. In fact, Valentine's Day ranks second only to Christmas in number of greeting cards sent.
Another famous person from Valentine's Day that you may be wondering about is Cupid (Latin cupido, "desire"). In Roman mythology Cupid is the son of Venus, goddess of love. His counterpart in Greek mythology is Eros, god of love. Cupid is often said to be a mischievous boy who goes around wounding both gods and humans with his arrows, causing them to fall in love.
Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14th and where do the holiday customs come from?