It’s Valentine’s Day and people all over the country are sending cards and giving gifts to the ones they love. It’s become a modern tradition but how much does it really have to do with the original Saint Valentine?
This time of year has long been considered associated with love. In ancient Rome February 14th was the date of Lupercalia, a feast in honour of Juno. Juno was the wife of Jupiter and the goddess of marriage. This all stopped when Rome converted to Christianity but the day was remembered. It became dedicated to Valentine, the Patron Saint of Marriage.
Why was Valentine linked to weddings and marriage? Well, here’s the legend told about him:
During the 3rd Century, Valentine was a Christian priest in Rome. Claudius was emperor at the time and he was waging a bloody war for which he needed a supply of soldiers.
Claudius thought (probably wisely) that single men were more likely to enlist in his army than married ones. So, to ensure young men continued to sign up, the emperor forbade any weddings for the time being.
Valentine took pity on the love struck couples that came to him and secretly carried out weddings against Claudius’ will. Of course, when this was discovered, the emperor had Valentine thrown into prison.
During his time in captivity, Valentine befriended the gaoler’s daughter and cured her of blindness through his prayers. After a year he was taken away to be beheaded but, before he left, he wrote a note to his friend and signed it ‘From your Valentine’. This was the very first Valentine’s card.
How much of this story is true is debatable. We know that there were at least two Christian martyrs called Valentine but there may have been as many as seven. It’s most likely that the legend was concocted long after their deaths to form a link with the celebration of marriage held on February 14th.
However you are spending Valentine’s Day, and whoever with, the Education Quizzes team hope you have a fantastic time!