Each year on February 14th we celebrate Valentine’s Day. It is a time for romance, love and for many a great excuse to play kissy-face with a chosen sweetheart! But the origins of the day are actually dark, bloody — and a bit muddled.
Though no one has pinpointed the exact origin of the holiday, one good place to start is ancient Rome, where men hit on women by, well~ by hitting them!
On February 14 around the year 278 A.D., Valentine, a holy Christian priest in Rome back in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed for performing too many Christian marriages. Indeed, Emperor Claudius II actually executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14, each in different years in the 3rd century A.D. and their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with Valentine (Valentinus in latin) the priest’s canonization and the eventual celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. Ironic; huh? Celebrating a day devoted to romance and love on the anniversary date of the poor man’s execution!
From February 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain. Those silly Roman romantics got drunk & naked and young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, because they believed this would make them fertile. (Oh, those wild and crazy Romans!) The brutal party included a matchmaking lottery, where young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be coupled up for the extent of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.
In the 5th century sometime between 492 – 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius I, mixed things up a bit by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia in order to banish the pagan rituals. But the festival became more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Regardless, the holiday was still celebrated as a day of fertility and love.
Legend has it that while in jail awaiting execution for preaching Christianity~ St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and he signed it, “From Your Valentine”. So there you have it in a nutshell! ~ JGT
My Valentine’s Day Story
While serving in the U.S. Navy during the mid-1980’s, I met & married my husband, Luke. We had met a little more than a year earlier, on a Friday afternoon, while I was reporting for duty at NRC Fort Wadsworth (later NAVSTA), Staten Island, NY. During the check-in process, it was customary for the sponsor, in my case, the Chief Petty Office on duty, to introduce incoming personnel to department heads. When we reached the “Library” I was greeted by an empty desk but introduced to a sailor wearing blue coveralls who was obviously busy rummaging through stacks of paperwork beneath the counter. A few seconds passed before I heard a loud ‘thump’ and Luke stood up and muttered, “Welcome aboard” while rubbing his throbbing scalp where it had just collided with the countertop.
As required, I had reported in full dress uniform and Luke confessed to me a few years later that he had been so distracted by staring at my legs, that he didn’t realize the distance between his head and the countertop was as close as it was! How romantic was that? Oh, and by the way; did I forget to mention that it was also Valentine’s Day?!?
Happy Valentine’s Day, Bear! “I never knew what I always wanted, until I met you!” ~ As Ever, D~~