February 14, 2023

The tradition of Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for over 1,500 years!  Some say it all started with Saint Valentine of Terni back in 226 A.D. So, how did the patron saint of epilepsy and beekeepers also become the world’s icon for love and all things mushy? Believe it or not, Valentine’s story is anything but lovey-dovey and roses. It is said that Valentine was imprisoned for giving aid to persecuted Christians at the time. While in prison, Valentine allegedly performed a miracle and healed the jailor’s blind daughter. Legend says before his execution Saint Valentine wrote the jailor’s daughter a farewell letter and signed it… “Your Valentine.”

Clearly Saint Valentine of Terni wasn’t munching away on some candy hearts in prison. So where did the chocolates, romantic dinners, and general amore come from? Another Saint Valentine appears in history out of Rome. In 270 A.D. (ish), Emperor Claudius II banned all engagements and marriages in Rome (No wonder he was known as Claudius the Cruel). You see, he thought that Roman men were reluctant to join the army because of their strong connection to their wives and families. During this time, Saint Valentine of Rome continued to marry couples in secret. When Claudius discovered this, he had Valentine put to death.

Not everyone agrees on exactly where our modern Valentine’s Day traditions come from; yet the common thread of love still spans different cultural celebrations. In Latin America, the day isn’t only for lovers but also for showing appreciation to friends. Israel celebrates Tu B’Av as a second holiday of love along with Valentine’s Day. In ancient times the girls would dance around the vineyards in white dresses. In Ireland, many make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Valentine in Dublin. Believing Saint Valentine’s relics to be there, they pray in hopes to find romance.

No matter where this day of love came from, I think we can all agree that the world can always use more of that L-O-V-E stuff. So, Happy Valentine’s Day. Show some love today – to your lover, friends, family, and even a stranger. It can only make this globe a better place!

-From “Your Valentine” at The D/C Group