ORIGINS OF VALENTINE’S DAY – NNADIKE JEREMIAH

Origins of Valentine’s Day

On the 14th of February billions of people will celebrate Valentine’s Day, a day to commemorate early catholic priests who were killed (about three of them, all named Valentinus) the actual priest that is celebrated during this day is still a mystery.

The earliest known reference to the original individual was from the 3rd century, a roman priest by the name of Valentinus was decapitated by Emperor Claudius II (the ruler of the Roman Empire at that time) for illegally marrying couples after a decree was made against any marriages, Claudius believed that single men would be more willing to die in battle than their married counterparts who he believed prioritized surviving because they had families.

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Another story of Valentinus says that he was executed for aiding the escape of early Christians during the heavy persecutions, by helping them escape from prisons from torture and so on. It is also alleged that at this time he fell in love with his jailor’s daughters and wrote her the first Valentines letters during his confinement before his execution 

Other legends say that he fell in love with a blind woman whom he had healed, and that he travelled around the roman empire’s territories healing people and spreading a message of love,always ending up decapitated, he was actually “sainted” by the church during the medieval periods, however the validity of these stories are unclear as some Belgian monks called “Bollandists” who collected manuscripts of the records of men and women “sainted” by the catholic church found evidence of three different Valentinus’s who lived at different times, having different stories.

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February the 14th was declared Valentine’s day (During the late 5th century by pope Gelasius) To commemorate the life and love of St. Valentines by celebrating his bravery, kindness and love and of course is death (which is allegedly on February 14th), bringing us to today where billions of people celebrate love for one another on this special day.

However it was not until the middle ages that Valentine was celebrated as a day of love originating in England as both men and women would write letters to the objects of their affection.

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Possible pagan origins of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is not the only celebrations done on the 14th of February, historians have found the Roman Empire held festivities on the 14th of February such as the “Lupercalia”, the festival was held during the mid-February period to celebrate Romulus and Remus the two men believed to have started the nation of Rome. Who were allegedly raised by a female wolf and as a fertility festival dedicated to the roman god Faunus 

Historians believed that the Catholic Church may have placed Valentine’s Day to coincide with the lupercalia so as to discourage the festivities

By Nnadike Jeremiah

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