St. Valentine

When so many of our holidays seem to be created by Hallmark to sell cards, this one goes back to ancient times to a celebration of Juno, the patroness of marriage and women. Her special day was February 14. So there was a pagan festival early on concerned with love. As the Christian religion took hold in Europe, the church officials wanted to do away with the pagan aspects of the festival. They gave the day a saint’s name. According to the History Channel this is why they chose St. Valentine.

“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 — his crop of potential soldiers. 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.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today.”

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