Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day? Was it made for greeting card companies to increase sales? Nope. The origins may be much older than you imagine. Back when Rome was just forming as a settlement, they had a festival called Lupercalia. It was in honor of the god, Lupercus, who they believed protected them from wolves. The night before the festival, all the single girls put their names into a vase. Each single man drew a name and they would be partners in all the games and dances.
Eventually, Rome became a walled and very protected city no longer plagued by wolves, but the people loved the festival too much to give it up. When they became Christians, they still wanted an excuse to keep the holiday. An early Christian priest named Valentine had been executed by the Roman Emperor Claudius II on February 14, 279 AD. So, this became his feast day and the new reason to commemorate the day Scottsdale Florist.
There were several priests named Valentine, and history is hazy as to which the day is really named for. One story about Valentine is that he performed wedding ceremonies illegally when the emperor passed a law forbidding young men to marry. Claudius wanted their minds solely on military service and conquering more land.
Another tale suggests that Valentine was put in jail for preaching Christianity. The emperor heard of his good qualities and was prepared to forgive Valentine if he converted to the pagan religion. He refused and even went so far as to try to convert the emperor! This angered Claudius and Valentine was sentenced to death. However, he had befriended the jailer’s blind daughter and performed a miracle for her. As he was being led out to die, he asked that a note be given to the girl. When she opened it, her sight was restored. The note was signed “from your Valentine”, making it the first valentine note ever written.
While Valentine was in jail, it is said that he wrote notes on flower petals and attached them to messenger birds. Many people say this is why we say it flowers on this day.
In later years, singles drawing names to pair off was looked down upon by the church. They decided to have the boys draw the names of saints instead and the boys were then supposed to try and live the same way as the saint for the next year. This didn’t go over very well, and soon the old tradition was restored.
The first valentine we know of was written by the Duke of Orleans in 1415 to his wife. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and wrote several poems in French and English using the word “valentine” to mean sweetheart.
It was believed by those in the Middle Ages that every bird chose a mate on Valentine’s Day so it was perfectly natural that humans should too. During this period, the young men who drew names for valentines were expected to purchase gifts for their partner throughout the entire year. This could mean flowers before each dance or festival, or it could mean much more expensive items.
A very special valentine gift was a pair of gloves, which actually meant the young man was asking for the lady’s hand in marriage. If she accepted, she wore the gloves to church on Easter.
So, Valentine’s Day is not a commercially made up holiday as some would claim. The 14th is now Singles Awareness Day (SAD) also, and many are anti-Valentine’s Day. I don’t understand why when it is not just a day for romance. Even if you happen to be single, I bet there are people that you treasure. Make the day about friends and family and absolutely anyone whom you are glad is in your life. It should be embraced as a day for love and friendship just as the ancient Romans did so very long ago.
Stacy Rose has been helping Santa Claus write letters to good boys and girls since 1997. She recently began helping her friends, Cupid, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy with their letters in her off season. She is also the founder of the National Organized Elves League, a directory of Santa’s helpers which can be found