A short history lesson for a heart-filled holiday

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Haley Loeffler/Winonan

The history of Valentine’s Day, and the story of its patron saint, has long been a mystery of superstition.

The holiday contains traces of both Christian and Roman tradition.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome.

When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men.

Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl who visited him during his confinement.

Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.

While many believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to recognize St. Valentine’s death or burial, others claim that the holiday’s purpose is to “Christianize” the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, which is celebrated on Feb. 15 and is a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

At the end of the fifth century, this festival was outlawed, as it was deemed “un-Christian.”

Many historians believe that Valentine’s Day didn’t start out as romantic, but became a holiday of love when people in the Middle Ages started believing that the birds mating season started on Feb. 14.

 

Here’s a list of the most popular ways that people spend this romantic day:

1. Pamper your pet

2. Embrace singledom

3.Cherish your platonic relationships, such as siblings, parents and children

4. Pop the question

5. Tie the knot

6. Ignore it

Contact Haley at [email protected]