[Happy Valentine’s Day 2018] Who was St. Valentine & what is the story, facts and history behind February 14?

Valentines day is renowned for being the ‘most romantic day of the year’.

Many of us relate the ‘most romantic day of the year’ with flowers and cards, yet how did Valentine’s Day start and what is the genuine reason we celebrate it?


And most of the people use this day as an opportunity to show affection to their loved ones with cards, flowers(mostly red flowers) or chocolates.

But why exactly do we have to celebrate Valentine’s Day and why does it have to be on February 14?

Well we have looked through the history books to find out the real reasons so you don’t have to 🙂 and the background casts a very different light on the holiday.

How did Valentine’s Day begin?

(Image: Getty Images)

Valentine’s Day is a very old traditional thought which originated from a Roman Festival known as Lupercalia, according to History.com.

It was initially held on February 15 as a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus who was the Roman God of agriculture. During the ceremony boys would randomly draw names of girls from a box and the pair would be partners during the festival.

These matches would often leed to marriage.

The festival survived the first rise of Christianity but was then outlawed at the end of the 5th century when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St Valentine’s Day.

Chaucer may have actually made it all up

Geoffrey Chaucer might not look it but he's Mr Lover Man, sort of
Geoffrey Chaucer might not look it but he’s Mr Lover Man, sort of (Image: getty)

Chaucer,just like in The Canterbury Tales writer, may have actually been behind Valentine’s Day. The medieval English poet took quite numerous liberties with history.

He would drop his poetic characters into every-days real-life historical events making readers wonder if that is what really happened.

There is no record of Valentine’s Day before Chaucer’s poem back in 1375.

It was in Parliament of Foules that Chaucer links the tradition of courtly love to the St Valentine’s feast day – the tradition did not exist until after his poem.

The poem refers to February 14 as the day that birds come together to find a mate. “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate,” he wrote and maybe invented Valentine’s Day as we now know it.

Who was St Valentine?

The St Valentine that inspired the holiday might have been more than just one man.

The saint recognized by the Roman Catholic Church was a real person who died around AD 270.

An account from around 1400s describes Valentine as a priest who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples wed.

The emperor had banned marriage at that time as he believed that single men made better soldiers.

Valentine felt this was not fair so he celebrated marriages in secret.

When the emperor found out he was thrown in jail and sentenced to a death sentence.

St. Valentine the international man of mystery

He may also have been Bishop of Terni, also martyred by Claudius II on the outskirts of Rome.

There are similarities between the bishop’s and priest’s stories, which led to people  thinking they are the same person.

There is confusion around St Valentine that the Church stopped veneration of him in 1969 – though he is still listed as an official saint.

“Valentinus” is from the Latin word for worthy, strong or powerful, and was a popular name between the second and eighth centuries AD meaning there are several martyrs with the same name.

There are actually dozens of Valentines listed and there is even a Pope Valentine.

However the actual day we celebrate is known as St Valentine of Rome to set him apart.


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