Valentine’s Day began as an ancient Roman celebration to honor St. Valentine. There are many legends about St. Valentine and why he has had this day of remembrance and celebration named after him. One legend claims that St. Valentine was a priest during third century Rome. During the time that Valentine was a priest, Emperor Claudius decided he would outlaw marriage for young men. He thought that unmarried men made better soldiers because they had nothing to loose, and he felt that outlawing marriage would leave him with many more young men, wifeless and childless, to serve in his army. Valentine had defied Claudius and continued to preform marriages, saying that it was God’s will to have young ones fall in love and commit to each other with the holy vows of marriage. When Claudius discovered what Valentine had been doing, he ordered to have Valentine put to death. The day he was executed, February 14th, became Valentine’s Day.
This day would be a day to apprieciate what St. Valentine had risked in allowing marriages and encouraging the bonds of love. People would pray to the St. to find love, or to keep there love going strong. People would also send letters to their loved ones. This tradition reflects how St. Valentine sent romantic letters to his love while he was in jail awaiting execution.
Over the many, many years people have recognized Valentine’s Day, the traditions have changed. In the Roman ages the day was used to celebrate St. Valentine. As the tradition of Valentine’s Day went on, the traditions of the special day changed. In Victorian England, Valentine’s Day took on the new tradition of gift giving. They kept the importance of celebrating marriage and being faithful to your partner, as God had selected this love for you and you should be thankful to him. Some gift traditions that were acquired during that time period were chocolates, a delicacy, and flowers, the ”poor-man’s gift” becuase they could be gathered from fields, free of charge. The letter writing tradition carried on also. They did however, find it less important to honor the St. himself. Today, in the modern world, Valentine’s Day is bigger than ever. Most people celebrate the day by being with their loved ones. Today, husbands and wives are not the only people who celebrate their love on this day, the religious affiliation with the day has lessened, and many more countries have picked up on the tradition, making Valentine’s Day a world-wide celebration of love!
Happy Valentine’s Day!