The story behind Valentine’s Day

By on February 12, 2012 in Reportages

Saint Valentine’s Day (or commonly known as Valentine’s Day), is just around the corner. It’s a day that most people know of, but how many of us know the story behind this date, or rather, the stories behind Valentine’s Day?

There has been more than one Saint Valentine. There are, however, mainly three legends associated with Valentine’s Day. Two of the legends revolve around a Saint Valentine of Rome and the other brings up Saint Valentine – Bishop of Interamna.

The first legend about Saint Valentine of Rome takes place during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. Claudius II was involved in many battles, and therefore he wanted to recruit as many soldiers as possible. When he found that many of the people were reluctant to join the Roman army due to family and loved ones, he banned all engagements and marriages in the kingdom. Any priest who married a couple was to receive a penalty of death. Valentine defied the law and secretly arranged marriages. Claudius eventually discovered what Valentine was up to and on the 14th of February around the year of 270 AD he was put to death. Valentine was named a saint after his death and 498 AD Pope Gesalius declared that February the 14th were to be celebrated in Saint Valentine’s honour.

In the other legend concerning Saint Valentine of Rome he was one of the first Christians who came to Rome. During this time the people of Rome still worshipped the Roman gods and persecuted those with other beliefs. This didn’t stop Valentine who continued to preach the Christian teachings.  For this, Valentine was imprisoned for a year. Valentine had a deep affection for children, and when they found out that he’d been imprisoned they started to send notes and flowers to him. During his time behind bars, Valentine fell in love with the girl who used to bring him the notes and flowers from the children. On the morning of his execution Valentine left a farewell note to the girl. He signed the note with: “From Your Valentine”. This phrase is a rather common way to sign a Valentine’s Day letter nowadays. This Valentine was beheaded on the same date as the Valentine mentioned earlier, February the 14th around the year of 270 AD.

The last Valentine that I will mention here also lived during the 3rd century, but unlike the other two he lived in a town called Interamna (known as Terni today) in Italy. He was a Christian as well, and became the first Bishop of Interamna. Valentine was adored by the people and became the first religious man to oversee a marriage between a Christian woman and a Pagan man. The prefect of Interamna did not approve of this and (like the former Valentine) he was beheaded. In honour of Saint Valentine, the town of Terni holds a fair and celebrations annually on the 14th of February.

However, these legends are merely the most popular ones. There are many more legends and Valentines believed to be associated with Valentine’s Day.