Valentine's Day 2021: Who was St Valentine? Why we celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14

Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine, a Catholic clergyman, who was believed to have secretly helped Christian couples get married.

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The day of love, commonly known as Valentine’s Day is here and as they say, love is in the air. Partners across the globe cherish and celebrate this day, but do you know what is the history behind this day? Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine, a Catholic clergyman who lived in Rome during the 3rd century B.C.


Although the history of this day is shrouded in mystery, we can date back events to the Roman Empire. Back in the day, from February 13 to February 15, Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, in which they sacrificed a dog and a goat. They then whipped women with the slain of these dead animals. Interestingly, young women would line up for the men to hit them as they believed it would make them fertile.


This fete also included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men would pick out names of women from a jar and they would be coupled for the duration of the festival. This sometimes also lead to marriage.


Emperor Claudius II executed two men- both were named Valentine- on February 14 of different years. Saint Valentine was a priest who was believed to have secretly helped Christian couples get married. This was a move against the Roman Emperor Claudius II because the emperor did not allow men to get married. Claudius ordered for St Valentine’s execution.


Legend has it that before his beheading, while being imprisoned, Valentine cured his jailor’s blind daughter. His final act before being beheaded was to write a love message signed “from your Valentine”. He was finally executed on February 14, 270 AD.


It wasn’t until more than 200 years later, that February 14 was proclaimed as St Valentine’s Day. Lupercalia was replaced by St Valentine’s Day by the end of the 5th century by Pope Gelasius, thus establishing this feast day on the Catholic Calendar of Saints.


But Valentine’s day got associated with love and romance primarily because of poet Geoffrey Chaucer and Shakespeare who romanticised it in their work. The concept gained popularity throughout Europe and stories grew about a High Court of Love where female judges would rule on issues related to love on February 14 each year. Handmade cards became tokens of love in the middle ages. Printed cards became a thing in the 19th century with the advent of industrial revolution. 


Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, has completely changed from its inception. People celebrate the day with their special ones by giving them gifts, watching movies or going out on dates. Valentine’s Day falls each year on February 14 and couples often start preparing for it days in advance. 


(With inputs from ANI)

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