How we got Valentine’s Day

Commentary by Andrew Pankratz
Times-News correspondent

   The origin of Valentine’s Day is rather obscure, although several colorful legends have survived to modern times.
Some believe that Valentine’s Day is related to an ancient Roman love festival celebrated in February, though there’s not much historical evidence supporting this view.
A more commonly believed legend credits a priest named Valentine with a major hand in the creation of Valentine’s Day.  Appearantly, the Roman Emperor Claudius II had some major army troubles.  His army was dwindling due to a plague and he desperately needed all the soldiers he could get to defeat the Goths.  Eventually, Claudius II decided that married men made bad soldiers, and he immediately banned marriage in all his dominions.
   Well, a priest named Valentine didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on with emperor, and he continued to perform clandestine marriage ceremonies.  The soldiers knew Valentine was still performing marriages by the Amethyst ring engraved with a picture of Cupid that he wore.
Saint Valentine could only keep this up so long before he was caught. The Roman Emperor was understandably angry that anyone would dare disobey him, and Claudius II promptly ordered Saint Valentine executed.
Another legend asserts Valentine was simply a Christian arrested by the Roman government for his religious beliefs.  During the imprisonment preceding his execution, Valentine prayed that the jailer’s blind daughter might see again; and, according to the legend, she did.  He wrote her a letter on the eve of his execution which he signed from your Valentine.
   Whether or not these ancient tales are true, Valentine’s Day remained simply a day celebrating a martyr until the latter end of the Middle Ages, when it began taking on a romantic connotation, a trend which continued into the renaissance through the efforts of various writers including Chancer and Shakespeare.
Valentine’s Day became more and more associated with romance and love.  Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated all around the world to the extent that the number of valentines sent each year is second only to Christmas cards (1 billion as compared to 2.6 billion), according to “The History of Valentine’s Day” on the History Channel website.
Valentine’s Day started as a celebration in honor of a martyr, but gradually evolved into a day very much associated with romance.  Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

Andrew Pankratz is a home-schooled sophomore high-schooler and a Teens & 20s writer.

This entry was posted in frontpage, Opinion. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.