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Why Do We Celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Is there more to this holiday than just flowers, chocolate and romance?
It’s Valentine’s day! Have you ever wondered why this day is considered the most ‘romantic day of the year?’ The history of Valentine’s day is a little mysterious, and quite far removed from what the day means in modern times.
I’m sure most of you have heard of Saint Valentine, the patron saint of Valentine’s day. But who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with February 14th?
Well, there are several legends surrounding this saint and it’s impossible to know which of them, if any, are actually based in truth. One story states that Valentine was a priest in third century Rome. At this time Emperor Claudius 11 outlawed marriage for young men because he thought single men made better soldiers! The priest Valentine declared this law unfair and continued to marry young couples in secret. When his actions were discovered, the emperor ordered that Valentine should be killed. Romantic? You decide!
Another story says Valentine was instead killed for helping Christians escape from the terrible Roman prisons. During his time in the prison, Valentine supposedly fell in love with a young woman who visited him often and he sent the very first ‘Valentine’ greeting to her. Legend says he wrote her a letter to express his love and signed it ‘From your Valentine’, an expression that we still use today.
Whether you believe any of these stories about the mysterious Valentine, in all these stories he is painted as a heroic and romantic figure! Because of this, the stories about Valentine gained popularity, especially during the middle ages, where ‘Valentine’s greetings’ were common. The date 14 February stuck because the Saint Valentine was honoured by the Catholic Church on this day. In addition, it was believed that this day was the start of the season for birds to find their ‘mate’, which added an extra layer of Romance. This was captured in this 1382 poem by Geoffrey Chaucer; ‘For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bride cometh there to choose his mate.’
Over time, Valentine’s day has grown in popularity and is celebrated by many people all over the world; with greeting cards, chocolates, gifts and flowers. However, many people also think this holiday is just a waste of money, and used by big companies to force people to spend money in the name of Romance.
What do you think? Do you think the legends surrounding Saint Valentine have any truth? Something to think about!
I'm Rebecca, and Australian living in Rome. I love art, history, food, and creative writing! I am blogging for Creative English in the hope to combine all these passions and share them with you all. Happy reading!
Creative English Teacher