St. Valentine's Day Trivia
Most of us celebrate St. Valentine’s Day without thinking about the history or meaning of the day or even who Saint Valentine was or if he was, indeed, the patron saint of love? Most people who received sainthood usually did it by some great deed, or died by some horrific death. So I decided to look into to this well-known but little understood saint and see if he even existed and what, if anything, special he did to make his name unanimous with love and romance.
One story or legend that I heard about was that sometime in the Middle Ages young men were banned from getting married because there was a law that stated that if a man was married, he didn’t have to join the army and go to war. St. Valentine didn’t think it was good for a man not to follow his heart and, against the law, he secretly married many young couples until he was caught and beheaded for this romantic act.
I haven’t really found anything that says this is the actual story about how all the candy and flowers got started. Like most tales, legends, folklore and myths, there are a lot of additions or versions are tossed around. And before we know it we’re having expensive dinner dates and not truly understanding why.
Here are a few things I found out about Saint Valentine’s Day:
1. The name of Valentine comes for the Roman Latin valens meaning “strong”.
2. According to tradition St. Valentinus was born on April 16 & buried on February 14.
3. The day is a similar to Lupercalia; an ancient feast of health and fertility held February 13-15. It lasted until the 5th century A.D. when it was “changed” in 496 A.D. by Pope Gelasius I thus establishing the first Valentine Feast.
4. Geoffrey Chaucer was one the first to write about Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday.
5. It has been reduced to a commemorative holiday in the Catholic Church’s calendar since the mid-20th century.
6. There was an 8th century St. Frucus, whose siblings were Valentine and Engratias were born rich and gave away their possessions and money to become hermits.
It’s about a week before Valentine’s Day so I thought it was appropriate to share a little history about it. Since there really it’s much information there, it has been suggested by some scholars that Valentine was invented just to create a romantic celebration. But whatever the history is, it seems to me that the day reflects the giving and sharing nature of humanity. And to be fair there’s nothing more romantic than sharing a smile with the person you love. Happy Valentine’s Day!