Valentine’s Day is celebrated every year on February 14. Couples usually spend the day expressing their love for each other by exchanging gifts and flowers. But the origin of the day goes back centuries to ancient Rome.
Who was St Valentine?
The history of Valentine’s Day begins with the person who started it all, St Valentine.
The Catholic Church recognised at least three different martyred saints who were called Valentine or Valentinus.
One of the meant is believed to have been a priest who was alive in the third century in Rome.
At the time, Emperor Claudius II had declared single men were better soldiers, so he outlawed marriage for young men.
Valentine realised this was wrong and performed marriages for couples in secret.
But when the Emperor discovered what was happening, he had Valentine killed.
Another story includes Valentine being killed after helping Christians escape from being brutally tortured in Roman prisons.
Another theory is Valentine was imprisoned for falling in love with a girl, who could have been the daughter of his jailor.
She is said to have visited him while he was in prison and he wrote her a letter signed with “From your Valentine”.
This expression is still used in Valentine’s Day cards today.
Even though the real story behind the legend is not clear, Valentine certainly made a lasting impression as a heroic and romantic figure.
What is the history of Valentine’s Day?
France and England started celebrating Valentine’s Day in February during the middle ages.
This was because February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season.
The middle of the month was then regarded as a day of love.