13 February 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

As Valentine's Day is approaching, I have been wondering what the actual history is behind this LOVE holiday...it turns out it is quite obscure and further clouded by extravagant legends.

One legend suggest that the holiday's roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15.  The ceremony of the festival was intended to secure fertility and keep out evil.

Another legend suggests Valentine’s Day is named in honour of Saint Valentine, the patron saint of lovers who, it is believed, was murdered on Feb. 14 AD 270. During the rule of the Roman emperor Claudius II, all marriages and engagements in Rome were cancelled!  The emperor was struggling to build his military forces and believed it was because men were emotionally attached to their wives and families.  However, St. Valentine secretly married couples until he was caught and was sentenced to be beaten to death with clubs and have his head cut off.  One piece of the legend suggests he left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter before his death which said “Love from your Valentine,” the first Valentine’s card.

Yet a third legend suggests it was not until the 14th century that this Christian feast day became definitely associated with love.  According to UCLA medical scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly, author of Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine, it was Chaucer who first linked St. Valentine's Day with romance.  "In 1381, Chaucer composed a poem in honor of the engagement between England's Richard II and Anne of Bohemia.  As was poetic tradition, Chaucer associated the occasion with a feast day".

So it appears that the mystery behind St. Valentine and the origin of the holiday will continue to elude us... But one thing is certain.... February will always be the month we associate with  love.

Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine's Day and quality time with those who are special in your life.


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