Valentine’s Day: Origins

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. A day just for celebrating love. The cupid shoots its arrows at the lovebirds all around the world on this day. 14th February has become a day that symbolizes romance and companionship. Additionally, it has become a day when companies capitalise on people’s sentiments and make a hefty profit in the process.

How did this very popular day come to be? What triggered this day to be named Valentine’s Day? There is more than one origin story.

Some say Valentine’s Day actually originated from the Pagan Festival of Lupercalia. This festival symbolized fertility. In ancient Rome, as far as the legend goes, women would cast their names in an urn. Bachelors of the city would then select a name each, from which each bachelor would be paired with a woman. These pairings often lead to marriages.

Of course, the more popular story going around is the one related to the Christian Priest Saint Valentine. Though there have been more than one priest known as St. Valentine, the one connected to Valentine’s Day was known for advocating love at a time when Emperor Claudius II banished marriages. The banishment came into force because the emperor believed marriages made soldiers weak. However, St. Valentine secretly administered marriages of young people, and when this was found out, the Emperor ordered for his death.

There is also the legend that St. Valentine helped Christian Prisoners. He fell in love with the jailer’s daughter when she supposedly visited him while he was confined. He sent her a letter before his death, signing it “From your Valentine”. This has become a catchphrase and a symbol of Valentine’s Day.

Of course, it is very difficult to ascertain the truthfulness of any of these stories. There are many contradictions, and these stories can be taken to be as much a fantasy as a piece of history.  Furthermore, Valentine’s Day became more popular much later on, starting from Britain and the United States.

One thing that is very certain is that one day just for love is not a bad idea. And love can be of any type: romantic or otherwise. As long as there is love in the world, 14th February is likely to be celebrated in many different ways in many different countries.

How was your Valentine’s Day? Did you celebrate it with your near and dear ones? Comment below.

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