Friday, February 12, 2010

How did Valentine's Day Begin?

Valentine’s Day is like many other holidays we have grown up with and love. It is a tradition we all know about but have no idea where it came from or how it started. The stories of it’s beginning vary and the facts have become blurred over the years. Although we know the Valentine’s Day card tradition is attributed to the Victorian era the origin of this tradition dates much further back.

In Roman times there was a Roman Catholic priest named Valentine. He lived during the rule of Claudius II who passed a law stating that no man may marry. Emperor Claudius II felt single men made far superior soldiers and would do anything to build the strongest army.

Father Valentine was a romantic and believed in the power of love and the sanctity of marriage. He began performing marriage ceremonies in secret. Before long he was arrested, thrown in jail and sentenced to death by beheading.

During his incarceration the jail keeper’s daughter visited him often. Just before his execution day, on February 14, he wrote a farewell letter to her and signed it “from Your Valentine” . Rumor of this letter spread and became the symbol of selfless, romantic love. This is thought to now be the first Valentine Card sent. He was put to death on the day that has become our celebration as Valentine’s Day, February 14th. Father Valentine was decreed “Patron Saint of Lovers.”

How strange it is that this lovely, warm and fuzzy, romantic holiday sprang from such a gruesome act. On February 14th, when you crack open the champagne why not give a little toast to Father Valentine. I think we all share his secret passion for true love.

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