Tracing the history of Valentine’s Day

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VALENTINES Day was named after St Valentine’s, a priest who served during the third century in Rome. Stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Rome prisons.

While imprisoned, Valentines sent the first “valentine” greeting to himself after he fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. Shortly before his death, it was alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “from your valentine” an expression still used today. Although the truth behind Valentine’s story is murky, his appeal is as a sympathetic, heroic and, most importantly, romantic figure. While some believe that Valentine’s day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial, others claim that the Christian Church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “ Christianise” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia – an ancient Roman festival conducted annually on February 15.

Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season.

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