Press Review: Happy Valentine’s Day: Who was St. Valentine and why do we celebrate on February 14?

Valentine’s Day: Some people think Valentine’s Day marks the death anniversary of Saint Valentine, who died on February 14 in 270 AD.

Happy Valentine’s Day: Valentine’s Day, celebrated on February 14, is widely regarded as the day of expressing love. Couples all around the world look forward to spending time with each other, sharing gifts, chocolates, champagne, etc. But, there’s more to the day than that. It is named after a saint: St. Valentine. Many believe the Valentine’s Day tradition can be traced back to a Roman fertility festival known as Lupercalia.

Some people also think that Valentine’s Day marks the death anniversary of Saint Valentine, who died on February 14 in 270 AD. Others say the celebrations began as an attempt by the Church to ‘Christianise’ the Lupercalia holiday. The Roman celebration honoured Faunus, the god of agriculture, as well as Romulus and Remus, the Roman founders. Men would pick names of women from a box, and they would become a couple through the event. This could even lead to marriage in some cases. Pope Gelasius picked the period of Lupercalia celebrations as the day to remember Saint Valentine towards the end of the 5th century, resulting in the association of Valentine’s Day with love and romance.

According to many historical records, the saint whose name is associated with the festival could have been more than one man. Valentine was declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and died approximately in 270 AD. He is also thought to have been a priest who assisted Christian couples in secretly marrying each other. So, he was killed by Emperor Claudius II. The emperor had forbidden males from marrying because he believed that unmarried men were more dedicated troops. Valentine was opposed to the notion.

Another hypothesis is that St Valentine was the Bishop of Terni, who was martyred by Claudius II on the outskirts of Rome. Many even think that they might be the same person.

Another fascinating notion is that St Valentine is a figure in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. He would mix real-life occurrences with imaginary characters, leaving many people doubting the records’ accuracy. There appears to be no trace of Valentine’s Day prior to his publication of a poem in which he names one ‘St. Valentine’.

Source: “Indianexpress.com” – New Delhi, February 14, 2022

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