Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Saint Valentine’s Day
There are varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine's Day.
Some experts state that it originated from St. Valentine,
a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity.
He died on February 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries.
Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns.
Claudius the Cruel was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues.
He believed that the reason was that roman men did not want to leave their loves or families.
As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome.
The good Saint Valentine was a priest at Rome in the days of Claudius II.
He and Saint Marius aided the Christian martyrs and secretly married couples,
and for this kind deed Saint Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome,
who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off.
He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day of February, about the year 270.
At that time it was the custom in Rome, a very ancient custom, indeed,
to celebrate in the month of February the Lupercalia, feasts in honour of a heathen god.
On these occasions, amidst a variety of pagan ceremonies,
the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed.
Other aspects of the story say that Saint Valentine served as a priest at the temple during
the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius then had Valentine jailed for defying him.
In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honour St. Valentine.
Gradually, February 14 became the date for exchanging love messages
and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers.
Although sending Valentine letters or poems dates to the 15th century and perhaps before,
the first mention of a decorative Valentine's Day “card” may be in the writings of Samuel Pepys,
a chronicler of domestic life in Charles II's reign.
He relates how “this morning came up to my wife's bedside…little Will Mercer to be her Valentine;
and brought her name writ upon blue paper in gold letters done by himself very pretty;
and we both were very pleased with it. But I am also this year my wife's Valentine.”
(Samuel Pepys, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, February 14, 1667)
In the United States, Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending the first valentine cards.
Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800's and now the date is very commercialised.
Valentine’s Day History
First Valentine Card
nose pressed against
the store window--
reading sales tags
haiku © gillena cox 2008