History of Valentine's Day

I have enjoyed the happiness of the world;
I have lived and loved

- Shiller

The Bishop Valentine

The tradition of sending Valentines is traced back to Bishop Valentine, a priest living in Rome during the rule of "Claudius the Cruel." Claudius banned the practice of Christian conversions and marriages, insisting that all young Roman men remain single and serve the Roman Empire at war. Bishop Valentine ignored these orders and continued performing Christian conversions and marriages. When Claudius received word of this behavior, he had Bishop Valentine imprisoned, but even jail did not deter the Bishop. While incarcerated, he converted his fellow inmates to Christianity, which led Claudius to order Bishop Valentine's execution. Before his death, Bishop Valentine wrote a letter to the jailor's daughter, who had been a loyal friend during his imprisonment, and signed it "From Your Valentine." The bishop was later named "St. Valentine," the patron saint of lovers. To this day, people around the world celebrate St. Valentine's Day on February 14th by sending "Valentines" to people they love or desire.

The Feast of Lupercal

Some say the tradition of Valentine's Day originated in ancient times, when Romans celebrated the 'Feast of Lupercal' to honor the God of Fertility. On the Eve of Lupercalia (February 14th), the young men and women participated in a name drawing ceremony. Each man drew the name of a young lady who would be his sweetheart throughout the year to come. This match-making tradition often resulted in marriage.

The Day of Cupid

Valentine's Day has long been symbolized by Cupid who appeared in Roman mythology as the chubby and mischievous son of Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love. According to legend, a person pierced by Cupid's arrow would fall in love with the next person he/she sees. The legend of Cupid was adapted from the earlier Greek myths about a similar character named Eros, who was the son of Aphrodite. Eros was a handsome god with the powers to make the bodies of young men limp at the site of a woman. Even today, Cupid and Eros continue to represent the act of falling in love.

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