How Did Valentine’s Day Begin? Holiday Rooted in Surprising History

How Did Valentine's Day Begin? Holiday Rooted in Surprising History

How Did Valentine’s Day Begin? Holiday Rooted in Surprising History

Like clockwork, the month of February ushers in a tidal wave of reds and pinks as lovers across the United States and the world at large prepare for Valentine’s Day.

But why is one day of the year set aside specifically for romance and love?

Curmudgeons may believe the day is a scheme cooked up by the chocolate and greeting card industries to make a quick buck, but the Feb. 14 holiday is actually rooted in religious faith and devotion.

Valentine’s Day gets its name from St. Valentine, who was believed to have been a priest before becoming a saint, Sr. Miriam James of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity told

“We know his legacy: A roman priest from the third century who actually was marrying people against the edict of the time of the emperor who was persecuting Christianity,” she said.

Emperor Claudius II believed married men were bad soldiers, so he banned marriage.

St. Valentine believed the ban was unfair and went behind the emperor’s back to wed lovers in secret.

“He was also praying for people to Christ and that caught the attention of the emperor,” Sr. James said.

Valentine was thrown in jail and sentenced to death.

“And he was tortured and he was martyred,” James said. “He was literally martyred for the sacrament of marriage. At a time when it was prohibited, he went ahead and did it in secret, and he paid for it [with] his life, and that’s really love, laying down your life. So that’s why he is the patron saint of lovers.”

Some believe that while imprisoned, Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and when he was taken to be killed — on Feb. 14 — he sent her a love letter signed, “From your Valentine.”



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