Origin of Valentine’s Day

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If you have wondered what all the fuss is about come February 14th each year, let’s see what we can find out.

According to Wikipedia, Valentine’s Day originated as a day to honor Christian martyrs — a priest, a bishop and a heralded saint who gave their lives as early as 197 AD.  All named Valentine, one was from Rome, one from Terni and another was killed in Africa yet no romantic notions were recorded along with their deaths.

Seems that folk lore had its way though, adding the known romanticism and flavor.

The saying goes…one of the Valentine priests secretly performed marriages for young soldiers after Emperor Claudius II ordered against it.  The Emperor believed married men would not make good fighters and this Valentine’s said defiance landed him in jail.

More recent embellishments say that before this priest was executed, he had written the first “valentine” card, addressing it to the jailer’s daughter whom he is said to have befriended and/or prayed for healing.  Her note supposedly read, “From your Valentine.”

Whatever the true story is, Valentine’s Day still seems to be be “death” to some hearts and “life” to others. S.A.D., or Single Awareness Day, for example has been created as a type of anti-Valentine’s Day when some single people celebrate by wearing green or black and gifting to themselves or doing an activity with friends and family.

Other choose to engage in this colorful holiday by sending one of an estimated 190 million Valentine cards to their loved ones (estimate for the US alone).

And Americans are not the only ones sending cards, chocolates and flowers, in South Korea, Wikipedia reports women give men chocolate on February 14th and men respond March 14th, on their White Day, giving candy to the the ladies who gifted them one month prior.

If you are needing some witty prose for your Valentine’s card, go to the age-old classic, from the collection of early English nursery rhymes Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784):

The rose is red, the violet’s blue
The honey’s sweet, and so are you
Thou are my love and I am thine
I drew thee to my Valentine
The lot was cast and then I drew
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.

Photo from [[Image:Happy Valentine’s Day! 4384.jpg|thumb|description]] via Flickr

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