My Funny Valentine
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Valentine’s Day has a pretty interesting history. Pretty much all the sources agree that it started with a St. Valentine. The question is, which one?
There were three.
In no particular order, the three were:
- St. Valentine that was imprisoned and was said to have fallen in love and sent the first valentine before his execution that said, “From your Valentine.”
- During the third century in Rome, Emperor Claudius II decided that married men were terrible soldiers, so he decreed that no men could get married. St. Valentine went against this decree and married young lovers until he was caught and executed.
- St. Valentine helped Christians escape harsh punishments in Roman prisons, until he was caught and…executed.
As with most holidays celebrated in Christian cultures, Valentine’s Day also has some of its roots in Pagan history. The original festival was called Lupercalia. It was a fertility festival so you can see why it is so closely related to a “romantic” holiday.
If you’re thinking that Lupercaia sounds sort of wolf-like, you’d be right. Roman legend had it that infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were raised by a she-wolf (or Lupa).
During Lupercaia, a goat and a dog were sacrificed, the goat for fertility and the dog for purification. The hides of the animals were dipped in sacrificial blood and then taken into the streets where woman gathered to be touched by the hides. This was thought to make the women more fertile. As some point during the festival, the women would put their names into a large urn where the bachelors would draw the name he was to be paired with for a year. If at the end of the year, there had been a child, a marriage would usually follow.
Somewhere around the middle ages, it was believed that February 14th was the official day for birds’ to mate, which gave us the current romantic date for Valentine’s Day.
The oldest known Valentine is actually a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London when he pinned the poem. Read it here. Sadly, she did not survive to receive the poem.
Hope all of you are having a wonderful Valentine’s Day!