Valentine's Day is one of those holidays that you either love or hate, but do you ever wonder why we celebrate it in the first place? I'm sure you've heard that it's to honor St. Valentine, but who is he and what's his story?
Valentine's Day actually has roots in both Catholic and Pagan traditions. The church celebrates three different men named Valentine (must have been a popular name way back when!). When Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for soldiers, saying that they make better fighters when they're not married, Valentine thought it was unjust and performed marriages for young lovers in secret. Another Valentine helped Christians escape Roman prisons where they were being tortured. A third legend says that when Valentine was in prison, he fell in love with the jailer's daughter and before his death, he wrote her a letter, which he signed "From Your Valentine." Aww.
There's more to the story though. Want to hear the rest? Then
Some people think we celebrate Valentine's Day in the middle of February to honor Valentine's death, but others think it's celebrated then because of the Pagan holiday Lupercalla, a fertility festival, which fell on February 15. Oddly enough, the festivities included Roman women getting gladly slapped with pieces of goat hide — they believed it would make them more fertile. All the young women in the city would then put their names in a big urn, and the bachelors would choose a random name and the couple would be paired for the year. Aren't you glad our Valentine's Day is all about candy, flowers, and romantic dates?