The Real History of Valentine's Day

Posted by Susan Song on

Many people across the world are probably doing preparations to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their special ones on February 14. Spending time with each other, exchanging gifts and chocolates and other finer things in life are common place. However, there is much more to the dedicated day of love and romance than that meets the eyes. For those who don’t know, it is named after a mysterious saint- St. Valentine’s. There’s a true life story behind this special day. It’s a story that teaches us a lot more about love, sacrifice and commitment.

In the third century, the Roman Empire was been ruled by Emperor Claudius II Gothicus. He was known as a cruel Emperor because of his harsh leadership and his tendency for getting into wars and abusing his people. He got into many wars during the third century that he was having a difficult time recruiting enough soldiers.

Claudius believed that recruitment for the army was down because Roman men did not want to leave their loves or families behind, so he cancelled all marriages and engagement in Rome. Thousands of couples saw their hope of matrimony dashed by the single act of a tyrant. And no one seemed interested or had guts to stand up to the emperor.

However, a simple Christian priest named Valentine did come forward and stood up for love. He began to secretly hold marriages of soldiers before they went off to the war, despite the orders of the emperor. In 269 A.D, the Emperor found out about the secret ceremonies and had Valentine thrown into prison and deemed that he would be put to death.

As Valentine was waiting execution, he fell in love with a blind girl who happened to be the jailer’s daughter. On the eve of his execution, with no writing instruments available, Valentine is said to have written her a letter with ink that he squeezed from violets. Legends say that his words made the blind woman see again. It was a brief romance because on the next day Valentine was clubbed to death by Roman executioners.

St. Valentine gave all his life to the young couples so that they could be bonded together in holy matrimony. They may have killed the man, but not his spirit as he is celebrated every 14th Feb. Even centuries after his death, the stories of Great Valentine’s self sacrificing commitment to love was legendary in Rome. Eventually he was granted sainthood and the Catholic Church decided a feast in his honor. They picked 14 February as the day of celebration because of the ancient belief that birds began to mate on that very day.

So now we know, how Valentine’s Day came to be seen as the most romantic day of the year. However, the truth is that we still don’t know much about St. Valentine himself. There are eleven Valentines which were commemorated by the Catholic Church.

Thanks to the Marital angle of his love story, Valentine became the patron saint of love, young people and marriages. On this Valentine’s Day, what are your plans to keep the love in your marriage burning?

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