Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Origins of Valentine's Day

Saint Valentine's Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, but not all of them. This holiday is also known as Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, and is observed on February 14 each year. 
St. Valentine's Day began as an early Christian celebration of a saint named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories have been invented for various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyr legends. A popular story of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned because he performed weddings for soldiers who were not allowed to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before he was executed he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell. Today, Saint Valentine's Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion and in the Lutheran Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine's Day, but on July 6 and July 30, the former date in honor of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modernTerni). In Brazil, they celebrate the Dia de São Valentim on June 12.

The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). In Europe, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart", as well as to children, in order to ward off Saint Valentine's Malady. Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.
Now we have Valentine's Day as we know it. A day that originated so long ago, and was so vastly different from what it has become. But that seems to be with most things, especially holidays. 
I guess as they say, "The only thing that stays the same is everything changes".

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