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Origin of Valentine’s Day
The origin of Valentine’s Day dates back almost 2000 years ago in the Roman Empire around 270 A.D. During this time period in the 3rd century, the empire had expanded to such an extent that it had become difficult to defend against the many neighboring barbarian tribes. There was also a very transient succession of rulers who were often killed in battle that contributed to much internal strife and civil conflict. In 268 A.D., the commander of the Roman Army, Claudius II, became ruler after defeating the Goths at the Battle of Naissus. The great demands of the military called for all capable men to be recruited as soldiers. However, Claudius became frustrated that many of his soldiers who were married men made poor soldiers because of the attachments to their families. Claudis addressed this problem by banning all marriages.
A Christian bishop by the name of Valentine vowed to secretly wed young lovers. When Claudius found about these secret matrimonial ceremonies, he had Valentine arrested. While imprisoned, Claudius attempted to convert the bishop to paganism and recognize the Roman gods. Valentine refused and even tried to convert Claudius to Christianity. For this, Valentine was sentenced to death.
In prison, the bishop fell in love with the blind daughter of his jailor after promising to cure her blindness. On February 14th, Claudius was brutally beaten and eventually beheaded. Prior to his death, Valentine asked for pen and paper and wrote a farewell letter to his lover, signing it with – “From Your Valentine”. It is this phrase that has endured throughout the years with February 14th celebrated as Saint Valentine’s Day, or more simply, Valentine’s Day to dedicate the day to lovers.
Even before this story took place, February 14th was celebrated in Ancient Rome around the 4th century B.C. to honor the God Lupercus at the feast of Lupercalia. The day was marked by young men drawing slips of paper from a box that contained the names of young Roman maidens who were then “assigned” to the man for the festival or even the entire year. Many years later, the Catholic Church would end this practice replacing the feast of Lupercalia with Saint Valentine’s Day.