The Origins of Valentine’s Day

Staff Writer Mikhail Stephenson                                                                  

Is there love in war? No, not if you want to be a great soldier protecting your kingdom according to Emperor Claudius II. He put to death one man who defied his command, a priest who is now remembered as the patron saint of couples and the name of Valentine’s Day.  

When Rome was being attacked by numerous enemies, Claudius II put out an edict stating that it was illegal, as a soldier, to marry since he believed that marrying would lead soldiers to long for their spouses with the result being that their training would be handicapped and desertion of the army. One priest named Valentine defied the emperor’s edict and married couples who came to him in secret. He was eventually discovered and was brought before Claudius II. Claudius II was impressed by Valentine’s conviction and dignity and attempted to bring Valentine into agreement, even trying to convert the priest. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius, only angering the emperor and earning himself a visit to jail until his execution.

In jail, he met the jailer and his daughter. After meeting the jailer’s daughter, he developed a great platonic love for her. When Valentine’s execution came, he wrote a hasty letter and finished the love note with the well-known phrase, “From your Valentine”.  Twenty-four years after Valentine’s death, the Catholic Church, recognizing Valentine as a martyr, made a holiday on the fourteenth of February to honor him.

Valentine’s Day made its way into the United States in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries but it was not until the 1840s when Valentine’s Day started to become widespread. IT was popularized by Esther A. Howland. She is known as the “Mother of the Valentine” due to her popularization of Valentine cards mass produced by factories.

Who knew a day for love, appreciation, and affability for one another could have such a bloody past. I guess not everything is as rosy as we thought on Valentine’s day.  


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