Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Origins of Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day -- a day reserved for sharing thoughts and feelings to those that are closest to you. But how did this holiday get started? According to church tradition St. Valentine was a priest near Rome in about the year 270. At that time the Roman Emperor Claudius II had issued an edict forbidding marriage.

The Roman empire had grown to such a size that there were not enough men who were not emotionally attached to recruit for perilous duty. So to make sure he had quality soldiers he banned marriage.

Valentine, a bishop, seeing how much young couples desired to be married, did so in secret. Once Claudius learned the identity of this "friend of lovers", had him arrested. The emperor, who was impressed with Valentine's convictions, attempted to convert him to the Roman gods in order to save him from execution. Valentine refused and at one point tried to convert the emperor.

While imprisoned, Valentine came to know his jailer, Asterius. Asterius had a blind daughter and pleaded with Valentine to heal her. Miraculously Asterius' daughter was healed, and just before Valentine was executed he requested pen and paper to send a farewell to Asterius' daughter. The letter was signed "From Your Valentine," a phrase that has lived on to this day. Valentine was executed on February 24, 270.

The tradition of sending notes of affection followed not long after Valentine's death. Young Roman men, wishing to court young women they admired, sent handwritten notes of affection on February 14. These notes acquired St. Valentine's name

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