Valentine's Day: Origins, Legend & Ideas

By Rumi Samuel Published on February 12, 2023
Valentine's Day: Origins, Legend & Ideas

Valentine's Day is a day of romance and love. Many people celebrate their love for their partner by sending cards or letters, giving gifts or flowers and going out with a partner and arranging meals in restaurants or romantic nights in hotels.ūüíě So, Valentine's Day is a day for partners.

Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honouring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine. Through later folk traditions, it became a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.

History of Valentine's Day

Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine’s. The Valentines honoured on February 14 are Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. 

Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred in 269 and was added to the calendar of saints by Pope Gelasius I in 496 and was buried on the Via Flaminia. The relics of Saint Valentine were kept in the Church and Catacombs of San Valentino in Rome, which "remained an important pilgrim site throughout the Middle Ages until the relics of St. Valentine were transferred to the church of Santa Prassede during the pontificate of Nicholas IV".The flower-crowned skull of Saint Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Other relics are found at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland.

Valentine of Terni became the bishop of Interamna and is said to have been martyred during the persecution under Emperor Aurelian in 273. He is buried on the Via Flaminia but in a different location from Valentine of Rome. His relics are at the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Terni. Professor Jack B. Oruch of the University of Kansas notes that "abstracts of the acts of the two saints were in nearly every church and monastery of Europe. The Catholic Encyclopedia also speaks of a third saint named Valentine,  mentioned in early martyrologies under the February 14. He was martyred in Africa with many companions, but nothing more is known about him. A relic claimed to be Saint Valentine of Terni's head was preserved in the abbey of New Minster, Winchester, and venerated.

Legends of Valentine's Day

Saint Valentine was a priest of Rome who was imprisoned for succouring persecuted Christians.

Saint Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II in person. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and discussed with him, attempting to get him to convert to Roman paganism to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. Because of this, he was executed. Before his execution, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer Asterius. The jailer's daughter and his forty-six-member household (family members and servants) came to believe in Jesus and were baptised. On the evening before Valentine was to be executed, he was supposed to have written the first "valentine" card himself, addressed to the daughter of his jailer Asterius, who was no longer blind, signing as "Your Valentine."

Rumi Samuel

Rumi Samuel

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