| Valentine's Day
By Sarah Lane
Mar 17, 2012, 23:54 PST
As with most of our holidays, there are many different historical interpretations regarding how Valentines Day came about. Today, a Valentine is defined as a sentimental or humorous greeting card sent to a sweetheart as a token of love and affection. The holiday has developed into a huge windfall for businesses, as consumers spend billions annually on items like these amazing chocolate delights and these impeccably beautiful, classic bouquets of roses. Many celebrate the holiday by dressing in creative valentines day costumes.  The day designated to celebrate Valentines Day is February 14th. We know for certain that a man named Valentine did exist and that he was Christian. The facts related to his death are not as clear. The following article includes descriptions of the life and death of St. Valentine and the origin of this beloved holiday.
An online encyclopedia says that the Roman feast of Lupercalia was turned into a western European Christian holiday. This feast was originally celebrated on February 15, but it was Christianized in the memory of the martyrdom of Saint Valentine in 270 A.D. Valentine allegedly united lovers in marriage, despite the fact that the Emperor had forbidden engagements and weddings. He was executed on February 14, 270 B.C.
The holiday is now celebrated on this day by the exchange of romantic messages called Valentines. Esther A. Howland created commercial greeting cards in the United States in the 1840s. Millions are now sold each year.
Source: Columbia University Press
The Roman God Lupercus watched over shepherds and their flocks to keep the wolves at bay. In his honor there was a spring feast on February 15th. The calendar used at the time was different than the one we currently use and February was in the spring. The celebration of this feast lasted for 800 years until the war in the Roman Empire.
There was a desperate need for soldiers, but married men didnt want to leave their families nor younger men their sweethearts. The Emperor at the time, Claudius II (or Claudius the Cruel), didnt have enough soldiers so he outlawed marriages, engagements, and all associated ceremonies. He thought this would provide him with more able bodies to use as soldiers. A Christian priest named Valentine, who was much loved by the Romans, secretly united couples. Claudius found out and tried to convert Valentine who in turn tried to convert Claudius. Eventually the Emperor sent Valentine to prison where he languished and died.
Saint Valentines remains were buried at the church of St. Praxedes in the year 270 B.C. on the 14th day of February. The Patron Saint Valentine replaced the Roman God Lupercus when the holiday was changed from a pagan tradition to Christian.
Although reference books mention many Roman festivals from which Valentines Day may be derived, no evidence exists to support these connections. Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the Canterbury Tales, and several literary contemporaries mentioned Saint Valentine and the traditions associated with him in their writings and thereafter the idea became widespread. Chaucers Parlement of Foules was composed in 1380 and clearly mentions Saynt Valentyn.
Source: American Heritage College Dictionary 3rd Edition
The Catholic Encyclopedia Version
The Catholic Church says Valentine was a holy priest who hailed from Rome and is celebrated as an illustrious martyr. A martyr is someone who chooses to suffer death instead of giving up something in which they believe. The current Emperor, Claudius II, had him beaten with clubs and then beheaded for going against the government and following his choice of religion. The date was February 14, 270 B.C. Most of his relics are now said to be in the church of Saint Praxedes.
Celebrating Saint Valentine's Day originated during the Middle Ages in a belief that about halfway through the second month of the year (February 14th), birds began mating. This is mentioned in Chaucer's Parliament of Foules, written in 1380.
There are numerous references to the practice of exchanging love letters during this period in which people called their loved ones Valetynes. A famous example of this is found in the Paston Letters, written by Dame Elizabeth Brews. A young lady wrote a letter to Dame Brews' cousin in which she addressed it: "Unto my rightwell beloved Valentine, John Paston Esquire". This may be our best example of the earliest Valentine.
Source: New Advent - The Catholic Encyclopedia, Catholic Online
It was said that while Valentine was imprisoned before Claudius had him beheaded, he fell in love with the blind daughter of his jailer. He supposedly cured her from blindness before his death and signed a farewell message, From your Valentine.
It became tradition to give someone you admire handwritten messages of affection with Valentines name on them.
The first Valentine card on record was in 1415 from Charles the Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Cupid is the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty. For this reason he frequently appears on Valentine cards.
Something fun to do on Valentines Day
Re-mail love letters with a Valentines Day stamp from the most romantic city in the United States. This tradition started 57 years ago and has grown ever since. This year, an average of 300,000 letters will be re-mailed through the Loveland Post Office to over 140 foreign countries and all 50 states. Join in the fun!
Source: Loveland Community
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