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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Origin of Valentine’s Day

The month of February has been called the “love month” because of Valentine’s Day celebration. It has been a special day for couples; a particular day devoted to express love and romance by giving flowers and chocolates, or exchanging cards and text messages.

A story came about from the hagiographical accounts of saints, which said that there was a Christian martyr, Valentine, who was persecuted as a Christian. While in prison, Emperor Claudius II himself questioned him. The emperor was said to have admired the prisoner so he tried to save his life by persuading him to convert to Roman Paganism but the prisoner refused. Instead, he tried to convert the emperor to Christianity and because of this, he was put to death. However, before his death, it was said that he performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of the prison guard.

There was another story about Valentine, who was a priest who refused to follow a decree by Emperor Claudius II, forbidding single men to marry because he believed that married men were poor soldiers. It was said that Valentine continued to celebrate matrimonial rites to single men. When the emperor found out his activities, he threw him to jail.
Valentine’s Day occurs every February 14, which has been an early Christian holiday commemorating the martyrdom of Valentine, which Pope Gelasius has established in 500 AD. Although, there seems to be no exact information as to who exactly is that St Valentine. However, in 1969, Pope Paul VI has removed St. Valentines from the Roman calendar of saints since there was inadequate information about the saint.  Hence, St. Valentines Day has ceased to be a Roman Catholic holiday although religious observance is not forbidden.

The traditional romantic celebration we have known about Valentine’s Day has no direct connection with the Christian holiday. It is said that romantic connotation or association with the holiday is started by Geoffrey Chaucer during the latter part of the Middle Ages when courtly love or the chivalrous expression of affection has flourished among the nobility.

In the Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer he wrote (as translated):

"For this was Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."

He wrote this poem for the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia.

Since then, Valentine’s Day has been associated with love. Modern representation of Valentine’s Day also invokes the Roman God of love and affection, Cupid. As the legend goes, Cupid shoots his arrow to rouse romantic love in people.

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