Valentine's Day

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  • Scorpion

    What is Valentine's Day? Where did it come from? Is it Christian?
    All these answers and much more information is found in this post.
    Enjoy learning!

    This is from the site

    Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are
    exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But
    who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday?

    The history of Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint -- is shrouded
    in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of
    romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges
    of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.

    So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with
    this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least
    three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom
    were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who
    served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II
    decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives
    and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop of
    potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree,
    defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers
    in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered
    that he be put to death. Other stories suggest that Valentine may
    have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman
    prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

    According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the
    first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed
    that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been
    his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement.
    Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he
    signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use
    today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the
    stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and,
    most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the
    Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England
    and France.

    While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle
    of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or
    burial -- which probably occurred around 270 A.D -- others claim that
    the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast
    day in the middle of February in an effort to 'christianize'
    celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome,
    February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a
    time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them
    out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt
    throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of
    February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus,
    the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders
    Romulus and Remus. To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an
    order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the
    infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to
    have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then
    sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. The
    boys then sliced the goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the
    sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women
    and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Far from being fearful,
    Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was
    believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year.
    Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the
    city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would
    then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year
    with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

    Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 498
    A.D. The Roman 'lottery' system for romantic pairing was deemed un-
    Christian and outlawed. Later, during the Middle Ages, it was
    commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the
    beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the
    middle of February -- Valentine's Day -- should be a day for romance.

    The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem
    written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was
    imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle
    of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part of the
    manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.
    Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer
    named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of

    In Great Britain, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated
    around the seventeenth century. By the middle of the eighteenth
    century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes
    to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the
    end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters
    due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an
    easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct
    expression of one's feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates
    also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending
    Valentine's Day greetings. Americans probably began exchanging hand-
    made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland
    began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America.

    According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion
    valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second
    largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion
    cards are sent for Christmas.) Approximately 85 percent of all
    valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United States,
    Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom,
    France, and Australia.

    Picture captions:

    Cupid, the child-like, winged deity often associated with our modern
    Valentine's day, is the son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. In
    Greek mythology, Cupid is known as Aphrodites's son Eros.

    There are varying ideas about what actually became of Valentine.
    While some say he was beheaded, others contend that he became sick in
    prison and died. In 1835, the remains--or what are believed to be the
    remains--of St. Valentine were given to an Irish priest named Father
    John Spratt by Pope Gregory XVI, after Spratt inpressed the Pope with
    his passionate preaching during a visit to Rome. The gift, in a black
    and gold casket, can still be viewed every Valentine's Day at the
    Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin, Ireland.


    A portion of the site

    Pagan origins of Valentine's Day

    The first information about this day is found in pre-Christian Rome,
    when pagans would celebrate the "Feast of the Wolf" on February 15,
    also known as the Feast of Lupercalius in honor of Februata Juno, the
    Roman goddess of women and marriage, and Pan, Roman god of nature.

    On this day, young women would place their names in an urn, from
    which boys would randomly draw to discover their sexual companion for
    the day, the year, and sometimes the rest of their lives. These
    partners exchanged gifts as a sign of affection, and often married.

    Christian Influence

    When Christianity came onto the scene in Rome, it wanted to replace
    this feast with something more in line with its ethics and morality.

    A number of Christians decided to use February 14 for this purpose.
    This was when the Italian Bishop Valentine was executed by the Roman
    Emperor Claudius II for conducting secret marriages of military men
    in the year 270.

    Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those
    with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young, single
    men, who made up his military. Valentine defied Claudius and
    performed marriages for young couples in secret. When his actions
    were revealed, Claudius put him to death.

    Another version of the story says that Valentine was a holy priest in
    Rome, who helped Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they
    were often beaten and tortured.

    Valentine was arrested and sent to the prefect of Rome for this. He
    found that his attempts to make Valentine renounce his faith were
    useless, and so recommended he be beaten with clubs, and later
    beheaded. This took place on February 14, 270.

    According to the Catholic encyclopedia, there are at least three
    different Saint Valentines, all of whom are Christian martyrs of
    February 14.

    One of them is described as a priest from Rome (as mentioned above),
    another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and the third from

    It was in the year 496 that Pope Gelasius officially changed the
    February 15 Lupercalia festival to the February 14 St. Valentine's
    Day to give Christian meaning to a pagan festival. The holiday become
    popular in the United States in the 1800's during the Civil War.

    As well, Pope Gelasius ordered a slight change in the lottery for
    young women that would take place during the pagan festival.

    Instead of the names of young women, the box would have the names of
    saints. Men and women were allowed to draw from the box, and the
    purpose of this was to copy the ways of the saint they had selected
    for the rest of the year.


    More links to the history of Valantine's Day.

    Valantines history/symobols/phobias and stuff!

    History of the Valentine Card

    The history of ....

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