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How Valentine started

FEBRUARY 14 is usually a day people set aside to celebrate and express love and affection. Although many celebrate this day, they do not know how it came about.

Valentine’s Day dates back to 4th century BC with the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia. The festival was held every February during the heydays of the Roman Empire.

This Lupercian festival was held in honour of the god of fertility. During the festivities, young men would get to choose their mates. At that time, marriage was a common occurrence, but when Claudius became Roman Emperor, he changed all of that. Fearing that the men would refuse their duty to fight because they wouldn’t want to leave their wives behind, he outlawed all marriages.

Young couples still fell in love though and they still wished to marry. They took their desires to Catholic Bishop Valentine who, understanding love, began to wed couples secretly. When Claudius found out, he had Valentine arrested and ordered him to be put to death. While in jail, Valentine began exchanging letters with the jailer’s daughter and soon fell in love with her. The day he was to be beheaded, he wrote her his last note and signed it, From Your Valentine.

In an attempt to abolish the pagan festival in the fifth century, Pope Gelasius changed Luperialia and its February 15 date to February 14 and called it Saint Valentine’s Day. Even though the name and the date were changed in 1989, the emphasis continued to be on love.

 -DOLAPO AMODENI

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