Valentine's Day is in fact a very old holiday. While most traditions of the original fête have been lost, there are still some rituals that remain, such as sending cards or offering gifts of flowers and chocolates. Current symbols of the holiday are the heart (usually in red or pink form) and Cupid, ready to shoot his arrow of love.
In most countries, the holiday celebrates couples as well as singles seeking a soul mate. In the US, the holiday also celebrates close friendships.
Christian Origins: Saint Valentine
St. Valentine, the saint for which this holiday is celebrated, was a patron of love and marriage. During the rule of Emperor Claudius II, the Christian priest married many couples in secret so that the men would not have to go off and fight (and therefore risking dying and widowing their new wives) in war. When the emperor found out about this, in 270 A.D., he sentenced St. Valentine to death.
On the orders of Pope Alexander VI in 1496, St. Valentine officially became the Patron Saint of Lovers. At that time, saint's protection applied primarily to singles seeking a mate. The purpose of Valentine's Day was to give single people the chance to find love. Different traditions emerged, such as the game of hide and seek where the unmarried girls of a village hid while the single men tried to find them. The match-ups might have lasted just for the evening, but some made it all the way down the aisle!
Lupercalia to St. Valentine's Day
The dates for many Christian holidays were not-so-coincidentally chosen to fall on days of that were closely related pagan holidays. In the case of Valetine's Day, this Christian holiday was intended to replace Lupercalia, a festival of purification and fertility.
And according to popular belief, wild birds tend to mate around February 14. So why not find your own little lovebird and snuggle up! And don't forget to send a Valentine's Day ecard to those you love!
Valentine's Day Bouquet
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