Every year, on February 14, people all over the world celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving cards, flowers, chocolates and other special gifts to that special someone in their life.
But where does Valentine’s Day have its origins and who was St Valentine?
Valentine’s Day is thought to have its roots way back in the third century AD. According to popular belief, Roman Emperor Claudius II was adamant that single men made better soldiers, so he outlawed marriage.
In defiance of the Emperor’s orders, a Roman Catholic priest named Valentine carried out secret marriage ceremonies for couples. When Claudius found out, Valentine was thrown into jail and condemned to die.
While in jail, it is said that Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. On February 14, the day he was executed, Valentine sent a letter to the jailer’s daughter, which he signed “from your Valentine.”
However, it wasn’t until a few hundred years later in around 496 AD that Valentine’s Day actually became a thing.
At the time, the Romans held an annual festival in the middle of February known as Lupercalia. Part of the celebrations involved boys drawing the names of girls from a box. The couple would remain boyfriend and girlfriend for the rest of the festival and even get married sometimes.
Lupercalia became a Christian celebration and its name was changed to Valentine’s Day to remember the priest (now a saint) who had died all those years before. Ever since, it has been celebrated on February 14 and become synonymous with people showing their feelings to those they love.