February 14: Valentine’s Day Begins

On 14 February 496 CE, St. Valentine’s Day began. Some believe that Valentines Day began to commemorate St. Valentine’s death, while others believe the Christian church decided to put St. Valentine’s day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the celebration of Lupercalia.

The first and most known legend began in Rome when Claudius II was emperor. His nickname at the time was “Claudius the Cruel.” While they were having troubles finding soldiers to join his military leagues he thought no one wanted to join because they did not want to leave their children and spouses. So he decided to ban marriage in Rome at the time.

St. Valentine became priest in the year 269 alongside his friend St. Marius as they went against Claudius II by performing marriages. They later got caught and got sentenced to death. Some believe that while St. Valentine was in prison he fell in love with a very beautiful young girl. Before his death on the 14th day of February he wrote a note to the beautiful girl that read “From your Valentine.”

The second legend says that Valentine’s day started in Rome on the 14th of February, which was a holiday to honor Juno. Juno was the Queen of roman God and Goddess. The following day (the 15th of February) began the Feast of Lupercalia. In those days, the lives of young boys and girls were separate. However, on the eve of the festival of Lupercalia, the names of Roman girls were written down on a slip of paper and all paced in a jar. Then the Roman boys would pick one name out from that jar, that name would be their partner throughout the festival.

In the United States, Miss Esther Howland was given credit for sending the first valentine card.Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800s.

–Erin Kress

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