Romance and love. Flowers and candy. Gifts and cards. Dinner followed by dance. Valentine’s Day brings with it a slew of ideas and accessories that are all supposed to boil down to one thing: love. And it’s all in the name of one man, St. Valentine, who was a fascinating (though sometimes misrepresented) historical figure. It’s time to get to know and love Valentine’s Day!
History of Valentine’s Day
While some people assume that the history of this day is quite clear, the truth is that the tale of St. Valentine’s Day is shrouded in obscurity. Tradition celebrates February 14 (and even the entire month of February!) as a day of love and passion, having both ancient Roman and Christian roots.
But when the life of St. Valentine, the patron saint of this day, is considered, that’s when things tend to get a bit more murky. Some people don’t realize that the Catholic church actually has record of three of its own saints who went by the name of Valentine (or Valentinus) and all three died as martyrs.
Valentine’s Day Timeline
St. Valentine is martyred
Defying anti-marriage instructions given by Emperor Claudius II in order to build up the army, Valentine secretly supports and marries young couples which eventually leads to him being put to death. His death is said to have taken place on February 14.
First Valentine’s Day is recognized
Pope Gelasius resolves to abolish the Lupercalia Feast, a pagan festival of love, and replace it with a commemoration of St. Valentine, who was killed a couple hundred years before.
Parlement of Foules, a poem by Chaucer, is written
This poem contains the first literary allusion to romantic love and Valentine’s Day. Chaucer talks about birds that would pair off with a partner in the poem’s text, but other people argue that it is not related to Valentine’s Day because February is too early and cold for birds to be mating.
Americans began exchanging Valentine’s Day cards.
The motivation for romance and love on Valentine’s Day has evolved into the unique gesture of exchanging notes, poems, and love letters, which may have been delivered by hand or by the US Postal Service in this century.
Valentine’s Day is now in cinemas.
This romantic comedy features a star-studded ensemble including Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, and even Kathy Bates, and tells the story of multiple separate romances between couples that occur all on the same day. However, at the box office, the picture did not receive favorable reviews from reviewers.
Valentine Promotes Marriage
The most widely accepted tradition about St. Valentine dates back to the year 270 AD, when Claudius II was Emperor of Rome. The emperor known as “Claudius the Cruel,” who wanted to develop a powerful army but was having difficulty due to the men’s commitment to their wives and children. What is his solution? Of course, engagement and marriage should be prohibited!
Valentine, a priest at Rome, is said to have disagreed with Claudius’ edict and opted to perform weddings anyhow, allowing young couples to marry in secret. When Claudius found out, he ordered Valentine’s public beating and beheading on February 14. He was eventually declared a saint by the church.
This Valentine is said to have become friends with his jailer’s daughter. He is believed to have left her a message inscribed, “From Your Valentine”. This may explain the notion of asking someone “Will You Be My Valentine?”.
Less well-known are the other two Valentine saints, one of whom was a bishop in what is now Terni, Italy, and the other who was martyred in a Roman province of Africa.
Feast of Lupercalia
It’s probable that before Valentine, the priest, was murdered on February 14, the pagan feast of Lupercalia was observed around the same time. One tradition associated with this celebration was that the names of ladies were placed in a box and picked out by the men with whom they would be paired, allowing chance (or fate!) to take the lead.
By 496 AD, Pope Gelasius had had enough of such pagan festivals and decided that the Lupercalia Feast would be discontinued, and St. Valentine’s Day would be celebrated on February 14. Over time, this became a day when couples would exchange poetry, cards, notes, and flowers, as well as sing songs and make other romantic gestures.
How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day
Celebrating Valentine’s Day brings with it a slew of inherited romantic customs that may be a lot of fun and delight! However, even if you are not in a romantic relationship, this is a terrific way to be creative in expressing someone how much they are appreciated.
Try any of these Valentine’s Day celebration ideas:
Create a Card or Present for Someone
Valentine’s Day is a perfect day to say “I Love You” to a love partner or a friend. Handmade cards and presents are extremely appreciated when it comes to expressing someone how much you care about them. Because January is a dark and quiet month, there is plenty of time to produce homemade presents from a pastime such as knitting a scarf, braiding a friendship bracelet, embroidering a towel, painting a picture, or just crafting a card.
Send Valentine’s Day Roses
Getting flowers delivered has never been easier, with delivery options available in practically every town! Send red roses to symbolize passion; yellow roses to symbolize friendship; pink roses to symbolize sweetness; peach roses to symbolize sincerity or gratitude; white roses to symbolize purity or loyalty; ivory roses to symbolize perfection; and lavender roses to symbolize a crush (or love at first sight!).
Make Dinner Reservations
Because restaurants are almost always busy on Valentine’s Day, it’s probable that a last-minute thought for going out to dinner will result in getting takeaway to dine at home. However, plan ahead of time (often months in advance, depending on the popularity of the restaurant) and arrange a reservation for two at a romantic restaurant.
Take in a Love Story
Visit your local bookstore or library and peruse the assortment of novels or biographies that may contain love stories. It could even be fascinating to read a biography on the Valentine boys!
Those who don’t have as much time to read might watch their favorite drama or rom-com film and observe what mischief the main characters find themselves into. To get started, watch any of these love films:
- Valentine’s Day (2010). Okay, this one could be apparent. And while it may not be a terrific picture, it would be unwise to overlook this one, which stars Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Garner, and Ashton Kutcher.
- The Notebook (2004). This classic Nicholas Sparks romance may be read as a novel or seen as a film starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams.
- Pride and Prejudice (2005). Keira Knightly, Rosamund Pike, and Matthew Macfayden appear in this lovely adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel of the same name.
- Think Like a Man (2012). This rom-com stars Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, and Meagan Good and is based on Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.
Make something unique for Valentine’s Day.
This day does not have to be the same as previous ones. In fact, it is an excellent day to try something new. Take a mountain trek, visit a museum, go whitewater rafting, or learn to play chess together. Whatever is enjoyable and can be done in the attitude of love is the ideal activity for today!