Best OF Valentine’s Day
People have been in love from time immemorial. It would be unjust to ascribe any particular history and origin to love and the feelings that come with it. But Valentine’s Day, the day which celebrates love worldwide, sure has a history and origin of its own. February is historically chosen to be the month of love and romance and the month to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Can you possibly overlook the deluge of love-drenched feelings, the slushy outbreak of ‘being in love’ and the perversion of the color red all around when the calendar turns to the month of February? No.
None of us can! For, the one thing that’s inextricably linked to the month of February is Valentine’s Day–the most coveted celebration after Christmas and a day kept aside to let love rule everywhere. Come what may, the hype and hoopla surrounding Valentine’s Day never goes unnoticed, no matter which part of the world you are placed in! And Valentine’s Day incidentally is the 2nd largest card-sending occasion, after Christmas.
Valentine’s Day has shadows of both the Christian and Roman traditions. Celebrated famously on February 14 every year, some believe that Valentine’s Day has its history and origin in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia. The latter was an annual feasting and celebration by the Romans to keep fearful wolves at bay from damaging their crops. Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15 with the young men striking the women because it was believed that these blows would make them more fertile.
This association of Lupercalia with fertility is probably one reason why Valentine’s Day is linked to this ancient Roman festival. Also, on the eve of Lupercalia, which is on February 14, it was quite popular for young women to find their partners for the festival. The romantic origin of Valentine’s Day can even be traced to this practice.
No matter what the history and origin of Valentine’s Day includes, it sure includes this patron saint named St. Valentine. Now history even has it that there has been more than one legend related to St. Valentine. Summing two legends, we now know that there were two saints (of the same name Valentine) belonging to the early Christian church. One legend holds that when the Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade young men to marry to make better soldiers out of single men, a priest named Valentine defied the orders and secretly married young couples.
Consequently he was beheaded on February 14 for his ‘crime’. Some even hold that Valentine day was end for trying to help Christians escape the atrocities prevailing in the Roman prisons. But whatever the facts, ever since, February 14 came to be celebrated as Valentine’s Day commemorating this great patron of people in love worldwide.
The other story talks of another Valentine who was a children’s favorite but was despised by the Romans for his religious defiance. The Romans had him behind the bars but the children still managed to send fond messages to their favorite Valentine. The current custom of exchanging love messages on Valentine’s Day might have roots to this age-old tale.
Yet another legend holds that when Valentine was in prison, he fell in love with the prison guard’s daughter. And history states that before his death, he wrote a letter to his beloved signing off as ‘From your Valentine’. It’s not known to which extent these Valentine’s Day legends related to its origin are true, but this expression ‘From your Valentine’ sure caught hold like wildfire.
And people still send gifts and cards on Valentine’s Day with this tag hanging from them–‘From your Valentine’! So you keep the tradition going too.
Probably, the Americans began exchanging handmade Valentine’s Day cards in the early years of the eighteenth century. And around 1840, a person called Esther A. Howland began selling the first big production of Valentine’s Day greetings in America. Now, apart from all the facts and figures of Valentine’s Day history and origin, one thing that’s for sure is the choice of February as the month for celebrating love.
In ancient Rome, February was the official kick-off month for the season of spring and was a time to feel happy all over again. Then in the Middle Ages, it was quite a popular belief in France and England that February was the birds’ mating season. All these and many more taken together contributed to the consolidation of mid-February as the time for Valentines.
Finally, around 498 AD, Pope Gelasius I declared February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day!