Did you know that on February 14th we are really celebrating ‘St.’ Valentine’s Day? So, who was this saint and what did he do that made him saintly? Actually, three different men named Valentine were martyred and recognized as saints by the Catholic Church.
History has contributed several Valentine legends.
One such legend says that Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men because in his opinion, single men made better soldiers than family men. Valentine continued to perform secret marriages for young couples. His reward? Claudius had him put to death.
Another legend tells of an imprisoned Valentine sending the first “valentine” after falling in love with his jailor’s daughter. He wrote her a love letter signed “From your Valentine.”
The truth behind the legends may be a little murky, but all the stories describe Valentine as a heroic and romantic figure.
So what about St. Valentine’s Day? How did that emerge? Some claim the Christian church created St. Valentine’s feast day to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival. Members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, gathered at a sacred cave where they sacrificed a goat for fertility and a dog for purification. They took strips of goat hide soaked in blood to the streets, using it to smack women to make them more fertile in the coming year.
Today, Valentine’s Day is not celebrated the same way around the world. For example, in Japan and South Korea, women give their men chocolate.
In Norway and Denmark, men send rhyming love notes to women anonymously. The woman must guess the sender. A correct guess and she wins an Easter Egg later that year; a wrong guess and she owes her secret admirer an Easter egg.
In Wales, the custom is to give love-spoons, a tradition started when a Welsh sailor carved decorated spoons of wood for a lady he was interested in courting.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Patricia Rosemoor has had 99 novels, 8 publishers and more than 7 million books in print. Patricia writes dangerous love, romantic suspense or paranormal romantic thrillers. Patricia has won a Golden Heart from Romance Writers of America and two Reviewers Choice and two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times BOOKreviews, and in her other life, she taught Popular Fiction and Suspense-Thriller Writing at Columbia College Chicago.
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