So many people write off today as a ‘Hallmark holiday.’ In high school I had friends who would wear black and in college I knew people who invited everyone to anti-valentine day parties. But, there’s more to this day than meets the eye.
A little history lesson for today–like most holidays–someone had to die to make us realize something important.
According to history, the year was 270 AD, and the Roman empire had grown too large to be shielded from outside enemies and inside chaos. The emperor at the time, Claudius II, tried desperately to recruit even more soldiers and officers. As he searched, he found that married men were too emotionally attached to their families, and so, to assure the quality of his soldiers he issued and edict forbidding all marriage.
A Roman bishop, named Valentine, saw the sadness of the young people in love. He began meeting these couples in secret locations and joining them in marriage. When Claudius heard of this “friend of those in love,” he had Valentine arrested. The emperor was so impressed with the young priest’s dignity and conviction that he tried to convert him to the Roman gods, to save him from certain execution. Valentine not only refused but tried to convert Claudius to Christianity, fully aware of the consequences. On Feb. 24, Valentine was executed.
While Valentine was in prison awaiting his fate he had befriended his jailer, Asterius. The jailer had a blind daughter, and Asterius asked Valentine to heal his beloved girl. Through his faith, Valentine miraculously restored the sight of this young woman. Just before execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper and signed a farewell wish to her “From Your Valentine,” a phrase that has lived ever after.
Valentine became a patron saint and was the reason for a yearly festival held in his honor. The celebration involved young Roman men offering women they admired and wished to court handwritten greetings of affection on Feb. 14. These cards all bore St. Valentine’s name.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all those I love.