By: Ella Tabor
Saint Valentine’s Day occurs on February 14th every year. On this day we celebrate love around the world by gifting our love interests chocolates, candies, teddy bears, flowers and more. Many have wondered “Where did this romantic tradition begin?”
My apologies to the romantics, however, the origins of Valentine’s Day have hardly anything to do with romance. Then why do we connect February the 14th with love?
Well, The legend roots itself in Christian and ancient Roman history. There are 2 versions of the story of Saint Valentine that are mainly told, the only real difference being their position in the church.
The legend depict Saint Valentine as a priest (or a bishop in the 2nd version) of Terni, who performed secret marriages to young lovers after the Roman emperor Claudius outlawed marriage for young men, believing that single men made better soldiers.
When Claudius caught wind of this, he ordered him to death. According to legend, while Valentine was imprisoned, he healed his captor’s blind daughter. He fell in love with her and before his beheading on February 14th, he sent her a letter.
This letter is believed to be the first Valentine’s greeting ever sent. He signed the letter with, “From your Valentine”. An expression still used to this day.
The validity of this story is argued. Historians have not decided between the 2, or if there is truth in either of them. “The two stories that everyone talks about, the bishop and the priest, they’re both so similar that it makes me suspicious”. Says Bruce Forbes, a professor of religious studies at Morningside college in Iowa.
Even though the story of Valentine was around, Valentine’s Day only started becoming a celebration of love starting in the Middle Ages, mainly thanks to English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer.
Around the 1370s, Chaucer wrote “Parliament of Fowls,” in this poem he said, “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day when every bird comes to choose its mate”. Inspired by Chaucer, soon others started writing their own poems of love called “Valentines” for their lovers.
Thus connecting February the 14th with love.
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