Valentine’s day is around the corner and the markets are flooded with chocolates, cards, and flowers.
The festival celebrates friendship, love, and admiration. Every year on February 14 people celebrate this day by sending messages of love and affection to family, friends, and partners.
But, was Valentine’s Day always about love and friendship? Let’s dig deeper and find out its history.
The history of Valentine’s Day
The history of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery and goes back to 269 AD. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains a mix of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.
According to one legend, Valentine was a priest who served in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
On February 14, an imprisoned Valentine sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today.
How is Valentine’s celebrated?
While Valentine’s Day is celebrated in most countries, different cultures have developed their own traditions for this festival. In some parts of the world, Valentine’s Day is observed as a day for expressing love between family members and friends, rather than that of romantic couples. Some traditions include exchanging small tokens of affection or giving hand-written cards and printed notes.
This is probably the oldest surviving Valentine’s letter in the English language. It was written by Margery Brews to her fiancé John Paston in February 1477.