Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Love it or hate it it seems inescapable. People spend money on things like cards, dinner,gifts without ever knowing the history behind the day. Find out where the holiday started and why. Discover how the traditions began and how the holiday has changed.
Origins of Valentine’s Day
Modern day Valentine’s Day is a combination of Christian and ancient Roman traditions. One legend surrounding this holiday says that Valentine was a priest who served in Rome during the third century. Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for soldiers because he believed that unmarried men made better soldiers. Valentine defied the emperor, so the legend goes, by preforming marriages for soldiers and their lovers secretly for which he was put to death.
Some believe that Valentine was imprisoned and put to death not for defying marriage laws but for attempting to help Christians escape being beaten and tortured in Roman prisons. Whatever the truth behind the legend of St. Valentine may be he was one of the most popular saints by the Middle Ages in England and France.
Another Legend behind this holiday is that it was created as a way to Christianize the pagan holiday Lupercalia. This holiday began on .February fifteenth and was a fertility festival in remembrance of Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.
Valentine’s Day Customs
There are many customs surrounding Valentine’s day. One of these is males choosing the names of females out of an urn to partner with during Lupercalia. These partnerships often resulted in marriage. There was a similar tradition in England where upon gentlemen picked the name a young lady and attended and protected her throughout the year. Other traditions include charms etc. which would help a woman foretell who would be her future husband. Today traditions range from marriage proposals, gifts, flowers, chocolates, and dining out.
Children even get in on the act by exchanging valentine’s day cards in school. Lovers are not the only ones who partake in this holiday, friends express their sentiments toward each other on this day to. Every year millions of dollars are spent in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Modern day Valentine’s are more often commercially printed cards than the hand written notes of earlier days. 85 percent of Valentine’s are purchased by women. In addition to in the United States this holiday is celebrated in Canada, the UK,France and Australia.