With Valentine’s Day coming soon, finding out the origin of Valentine’s Day would be quite interesting, wouldn’t it?
Love and Romance are the desires which have been driving men for centuries and centuries. And one of the widely celebrated romantic periods of the year is Valentine’s Day which is named after the 3rd century’s Roman saint, Saint Valentine.
Legends behind Valentine’s Day – The Lovers’ Festival
The legend has several faces and one of them looks back to 269 AD when St. Valentine was executed for defying the king’s rule by wedding soldiers. These soldiers had been prohibited from ever getting married by the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Claudius II used to think that married soldiers weren’t good fighters because they would want to be alive for their families and not sacrifice themselves in wars.
Another story from the 3rd century talks about a note signed “from your Valentine”. Legend has it that the jailer’s daughter and St. Valentine had romantic feelings towards each other, thus the letter. It was this very woman whose eyesight was miraculously healed by St. Valentine.
Origin of Valentine’s Day
The first Valentine’s day was celebrated in 496 AD. However, this celebration of Valentine’s Day is quite different than how it’s celebrated today. Back then, the men drew out names of the girls and according to the tradition they were paired for a period of the festival and in some cases, they even got married. The tradition was further named Valentine’s day because of the sacrifice Valentine made in the name of love.
How Valentine’s Day went international
It was during the 14th and the 15th century when Valentine’s Day was adopted in other parts of the world.
One of the oldest poems scribed for Valentine’s Day was by Charles, the Duke of New Orleans. He had written several poems at the time of captivity and those poems are now translated in English. One of Charles’s poems read,
“My very gentle Valentine,
Since for me, you were born too soon,
And I, for you, was born too late.
God forgives him who has estranged
Me from you for the whole year.
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine.”
The period also had Shakespear and Chaucer who romanticized their scribes and the poems are truly beautiful.
Commercialization of Valentine’s Day
Slowly and steadily, as Valentine’s Day crossed borders and reached faraway shores, people started coming up with innovative ideas to express their love. From conservative countries like Israel and India to more open-minded nations like Japan and the USA saw companies mass-producing merchandise for Valentine’s Day.
In fact, one of the first companies to mass-produce Valentine’s Day cards did so in the 1800s! Each year, America solely produces 190 million greetings cards. And all over the world, Valentine’s day has turned up to be a billion-dollar industry as the gifting industry evolved from cards and teddies to solitaires and latest iPhones.
Seems like the fruits of a saint’s sacrifice are enjoyed by today’s generation.
Tell us about your experience of Valentine’s Day in the comments section. Or are you one of those who doesn’t believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day at all?