E.J. Fulton Babbitt
Nowadays many people in the 21st century do not know the true beautiful origins of Valentine’s Day — and that needs to change.
The first semblance of Valentine’s Day was a Roman holiday on Feb. 16 known as Lupercalia, a fertility celebration. A few hundred years later, in 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius who changed it to St. Valentine’s Day, a Christian Day feast. Despite the name and all these stories it was not until the 14th century this became a holiday about love.
Geoffrey Chaucer, a British poet, wrote a poem dedicated to the engagement of Richard II and Anne of Bohemia titled “Parliament of Fowls.”
Now that gives a deeper, poetic meaning to the expression “lovebirds.”
By the 18th century people had developed this into a tradition in England of gift giving and exchanging romantic handmade cards. When the American colonies were founded a woman named Esther A. Howland brought the tradition to Massachusetts in 1850.
Most importantly there is also a tragically beautiful legend few know of tied to Valentine’s Day as well.
This is a story everyone who celebrates Valentine’s Day should know as it ties deeply into the holiday itself.
Claudius Gothicus II, emperor of Rome, outlawed young men getting married since he felt they were better suited for war. Claudius did this because he believed unmarried soldiers would fight better without the worry of their families back home.
It is near impossible to imagine not being able to profess your love to that special someone in the purest, most genuine way possible.
Saint Valentine was a compassionate man who could not and would not stand by Claudius’ decision. In fact, because he did not agree with Claudius’ feelings toward marriage he secretly married young couples.
This man of God played Eros for the people of Rome until the Roman Empire found out about his so-called “crimes.”
Valentine’s punishment for what he had done was a three-part execution. Valentine was to be beaten, stoned and finally decapitated for his “wrongdoings” of giving people their happy endings.
That’s not all though.
This story continues and gives the words “from your Valentine” an even deeper meaning.
After Claudius sent Valentine to prison for his crimes he fell in love with his jailer Asterius’ blind daughter.
Before Valentine was executed on what we know as Valentine’s Day he sent her a letter signed with three simple words, “from your Valentine.”
Coming back to the 21st century, American Valentine’s Day cards are responsible for over 25 percent of holiday card sales every year.
Whenever we celebrate Valentine’s Day most do not know of these poignant origins regarding this day of love. Without knowing these stories how can a person really appreciate the chocolates, flowers and heartfelt letters they receive?
It’s been an ongoing tradition for centuries and like every other holiday it too should be appreciated fully.
After all, all this buildup is far more than just an excuse to buy someone chocolates, it’s about the importance of love.