There is a historical mystery surrounding Valentine’s Day, also known the Feast of Saint Valentine, which causes people every year to wonder about the origins of the holiday which is celebrated on February 14 each year. It is observed in most countries all over the world, and remains a working day in most countries.
Was There a Real Valentine?
The historical origin of Valentine’s Day is surrounded by mystery, but one legend behind this celebrated holiday is centered around Valentinus, a Christian Saint, who was imprisoned for not giving up his Christian faith. The saint lived in the 4rd century in Italy. Three hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ, the Roman emperors still demanded that everyone believe in the Roman gods. Valentine was well known for his habit to give
flowers from his own garden. Especially as a priest he married couples
according to Christian tradition, which by that time was a crime against the
Roman Emperor.  The Emperor
insisted that unmarried men were better soldiers than those who were married, he
also strictly forbade marriage for younger men. Valentine disagreed with this statute, defied Claudius, the emperor and performed weddings for young soldiers who
were forbidden to marry, whenever they looked for him. Yet, this did not go unnoticed. After a while Valentine, a Christian priest, was thrown in prison for his teachings. He was also
accused for the crime of preaching to Christians. During the Roman Empire, this act was
considered treason, and when Emperor Claudius discovered this actions, Valentine had no hope to escape the death penalty. However, when on February
14, Valentine was beheaded, not only because he was a Christian, he also had to leave the world of the living because he had performed a miracle that seemed impossible to perform for an "evil" person, thus even further weakening the Emperors authority. He apparently cured the jailer's daughter from her blindness. On the
morning of his execution, Saint Valentine sent his last card to his jailer’s
daughter, with the scrawled words “forever in life and death, your
Valentine.” Another legend tells us that this same Valentine,
well-loved by all, received notes to his jail cell from children and friends
who missed him.
Against the Emperors will who forbade young soldiers to marry, Valentine
loved to marry couples and gave them flowers from his own garden.
Archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb; an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. During 496 AD, Pope Gelasius I. in honor of his martyrdom declared February 14 from now on to be the "Valentine's Day" .
Another Valentine was an Italian bishop who lived at about the same time, AD 200. He was imprisoned because he secretly married couples, contrary to the laws of the Roman emperor. Some legends say he was burned at the stake.
Saint Valentine would cut out heart shapes from a sheet of parchment and give them to soldiers, and the persecuted Christians, to remind them of their vows and God’s love. It is believed that Saint Valentine wore an amethyst ring with an image of Cupid engraved in it. This was recognized as a symbol associated with love, and usually worn by bishops. The soldiers would recognize his ring and ask Saint Valentine to perform marriage ceremonies for them.
During his imprisonment, he befriended his captor’s daughter, and they struck up a friendship. The visits by the woman were brief, and they did not have much time to talk to one another. He would, during his free time, write loving messages on small cards and hand these over to her when she visited.
Saint Valentine’s Day is a ceremonial feast day on the calendar of saints who were martyrs in the Anglican Communion and in the Lutheran Church. Other Christian denominations also celebrate this day during July. Throughout the world, February 14 is celebrated and specially marked as a date for love and is often symbolized by the color red. Red roses, red hearts, and loving messages on cards are traditionally exchanged between friends and lovers.
Feast of Lupercalia
The ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, a spring festival, on the 15th of February, held in honor of a goddess. Young men randomly chose the name of a young girl to escort to the festivities. With the introduction of Christianity, the holiday moved to the 14th of February. The Christians had come to celebrate February 14 as the saint day that celebrated the several early Christian martyrs named Valentine.
During 1840, Ester A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentine cards in America. Howland is known as the “mother of Valentine.” Decorative creations using lace, ribbons and colorful pictures were produced as the tradition was birthed. Today the Greeting Card Association estimates that over a billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year. This makes Valentine’s Day the second largest card-selling holiday of the year.
February is historically a month celebrated by romance and love and the mystery surrounding the saints and St. Valentine’s Day remains a tradition continued each year.
Choosing a Sweetheart on Valentine's Day in the Angelsaxon World
The custom of choosing a sweetheart on this date spread through Europe in the Middle Ages, and then to the early American colonies. Throughout the ages, people also believed that birds picked their mates on February 14!
Especially among British and US- American friends this tradition is strong. In United Kingdom it is customary on that to send out anonymous love-letters. In U.S. teenies secretly send each-other greetings-cards with love messages. Whoever gets most messages counts as the most "wanted" - a questionable game indeed, but maybe on the way to more maturity still much fun as the old saying goes : It is all about the one prince or princess who loves you!
The Valentines Day on Continental Europe
"Does he-she loves me or does he/she not" , this is oneof the games often played for fun on this day, often with a flower in one hand and with the other ripping out one of its leaves, whenever the question changes... The Valentines Days is an occasion to share to somebody its own feelings about him or her.
Continental Europeans only from 1950 on began celebrate this day Couples and lovers are encourged to enjoy each other by sharing flowers, very much like Valentine did himself to express joy about their love. Some fine tasting chocolate or another small presents are also o.k. For some it is a day of much fun, for gardeners a day of much business, yet still it is not everybodies prefered day to show feelings, as many are convinced love is too special to form certain traditions for it.
Whatever you think about it now, it is a day where you under the shadow of a "tradition" you may express some of your deepest feelings to somebody you think should know about it now and to do a first step! Or maybe it is just another great day where you would like to tell your adored partner once more: "I love you"
About all because love is so special even King Solomon when he was surprised by love searched for human words to express it: “You are altogether beautiful, my darling, And there is no blemish in you. (Songs of Solomon 4:7)