Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The History of Valentine's Day

By Nicole Wilkinson
While searching the internet, I have come to find that there are many different legends about the history of Valentine's Day. There is one in particular that I like the most and thought that I would share. According to the legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Another legend tells us that according to church tradition St. Valentine was a priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D. At that time the Roman Emperor Claudius-II who had issued an edict forbidding marriage. Lack of quality administrators led to frequent civil strife. Learning declined, taxation increased, and trade slumped to a low, precarious level. And the Gauls, Slavs, Huns, Turks and Mongolians from Northern Europe and Asian increased their pressure on the empire's boundaries. The empire was grown too large to be shielded from external aggression and internal chaos with existing forces. Thus more of capable men were required to be recruited as soldiers and officers. When Claudius became the emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, will not make good soldiers. So to assure quality soldiers, he banned marriage.

Valentine, a bishop , seeing the trauma of young lovers, met them in a secret place, and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. Claudius learned of this "friend of lovers," and had him arrested. The emperor, impressed with the young priest's dignity and conviction, attempted to convert him to the roman gods, to save him from certain execution. Valentine refused to recognize Roman Gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully.On February 24, 270, Valentine was executed.

No matter which legend you prefer, there is one thing that is certain...tomorrow is Valentine's Day, so make sure you stop in today for your Valentine's special gift!

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