What else can be more exciting than getting something "from your Valentine". The month of romance has come again. Before finding the answer to the question of “how we should celebrate Valentine's day this year”, let's take a quick look at the history of this romance festival.
Although Valentine's day is generally accepted as a special day for romantic love, it is actually an annual festival where friendship and admiration are also celebrated. Valentine's Day is a tradition celebrated every year on February 14th in the form of mutual gifting among lovers, but also among close friends in some places, in the name of St. Valentine. However, there are contradictions as to who the real St. Valentine is. There are at least three saints named Valentine that could be the one after which the name of Valentine’s Day was given. Who knows, perhaps the legends attributed to those three separate saints may belong to one Valentine only.
Christianity began to spread rapidly among the Romans in the 3rd. Century, and the Roman Emperor Claudius II, who was a pagan, was not happy with this mass religious conversion. So he passed many laws restricting Christians’ lives and their religious practices. Since Claudius’s best soldiers were single, he believed that marriage was something to be forbidden for the sake of Empire, thus he actually passed a law preventing his soldiers from marrying. According to the legend, St. Valentine was the Christian priest who organized secret Christian Ceremonies to marry those soldiers. It didn't take too long for Emperor Claudius to realize these secret marriage ceremonies. He captured and prisoned St. Valentine and eventually sentenced him to death. February 14th was believed to be the day when he was actually executed. And since he lost his life for the sake of love, the day of his death began to be celebrated as the day of love and romance to keep his memories alive.
According to another legend, Valentine was the hero who helped many Christian to escape from Roman prisons where they were captured under extreme torture and cruelty. He ended up to be jailed by the Emperor as well. The legend says that he fell in love with a girl, most probably the daughter of the ruler he prisoned him, and sent her a love letter signed “From your Valentine” before he was going to be executed. Since then, this expression has become a symbol of love letters. Although the uncertainty about Valentine's identity remains, there is a strong belief that he was a romantic hero who cares so much about love.
Well, when did Valentine's Day actually begin to be celebrated? At least 200 years after the time when legends regarding St. Valentine was told. There used to be a pagan fertility festival named Lupercalia celebrated in Rome each year at mid February to honor the coming of spring. However, it had nothing to do with today's Valentine's Day. All regions were Christianized at that time and Catholic Church wanted to erase any remaining signs of paganism from the region, thus, proclaimed February 14th. as St. Valentine's Day.
At the end of the 1700s, commercial cards printed specially for Valentine's Day were introduced. Celebrated for a long time only in Christians-dominated countries, today, it has become a universal celebration spreading throughout the World.