Why Give Valentines?

Most school children remember making a valentine or two in class.  And most of us would give them to a parent or friend.  Today there are all sorts of gifts that can be purchased to show the special person in your life your love.

The Journal consulted the Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica for the history of the celebration.  Here is what we found:

Valentine’s Day, also called St. Valentine’s Day,  holiday (February 14) when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts. The holiday has origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February.

The festival, which celebrated the coming of spring, included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery.  At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day.  It came to be celebrated as a day of romance from about the 14th century.

Although there were several Christian martyrs named Valentine, the day may have taken its name from a priest who was martyred about 270 CE by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus.  According to legend, the priest signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended and, by some accounts, healed from blindness. 


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