- Posted by Stephen Whiteley
- On 14/02/2018
Translating the history/origin of Saint Valentine’s Day is not easy because there are many candidates who are each vying for the honor of being called the real Cupids who started it all off. Some say that the late Latin februarius was the first while others credit the Old French fevrier or February (as it is translated in Modern English) to be the originators of Saint Valentine’s Day. Still others believe the history/origin of Saint Valentine’s Day was in the month of expiation or purification when the Roman Festival of purifying began on 15th February. This was the day of the Lupercalia which commemorated the passage of young males to the God of Fertility Lupercus.
270 AD is a good starting date
Anyone who is planning on translating the history/origin of Saint Valentine’s Day, will do well to start in the third century after Christ at about 270 AD. This was when Saint Valentine, a priest from Rome, began to emphasize that young aspiring Roman centurions be drafted into the military. During this time, Rome required more troops to defend their growing territories and it was again at this time that Emperor Claudius passed the order prohibiting his troops from getting engaged to be married.
Emperor Claudius and his peculiar order
This was because according to Emperor Claudius married troops did not make good soldiers. However, Saint Valentine, who was known for his kindness, began to defy these orders openly and he began the practice of marrying off soldiers in a clandestine manner in various places including in basements in castles and in wine cellars. When the Emperor got to know of these actions, he tried first to convert Valentine to Roman paganism. When this failed, Saint Valentine was imprisoned and beheaded on the 14th day of February, 270 AD. This day also happened to be the day of the important Roman festival called Lupercalia.
Lupercalia celebrations started it all off
It may have been that this execution would become part of the entertainment activities of the Romans who were persecuting Christians and throwing people to the lions. According to some, on the evening of the 15th of February 270 AD, during the Lupercalia celebrations, young Roman males made a list of eves who would be their dates. These eves were to be their dates on not just this day but they were to become their sexual partners for the entire year. This was done in honor of the Goddess called Juno Februata.
The Roman version
The Church however did not want to honor a pagan God and so they chose Valentine and the custom of choosing sexual partners was born, though exactly how it was born remains a mystery to this day. It became common for Roman young males to choose their sexual partners, and they began to celebrate this occasion in the middle of February to commemorate Saint Valentine. This practice continued and was practiced by every young Roman man who wanted to woo their ladies. This is how this tradition was born. Suitors started to use this day to present their beloved ones with a handwritten message that talked about their love and affection for the woman in question. On this message, the name Saint Valentine was inscribed and that is how the Romans think Saint Valentine’s Day began.
Cupid is also closely related to Saint Valentine’s Day. Cupid played a major role in the celebration of ancient Greeks and Romans and was part of the celebrations of love and mating. This is how Saint Valentine’s Day is celebrated by the Greeks.