Valentine’s Day is traditionally celebrated on the 14th February, but just where did the tradition come from?
Celebrated by lovers the world over, the feast day of Saint Valentine is the perfect opportunity to show your affection for a special someone by buying a gift or sending a Valentine’s card. However, not much is really known about Saint Valentine, or why his feast day has become so strongly associated with love.
Saint Valentine was apparently a priest who was martyred in Africa and buried on the Via Flamina in Rome on the 14th February. Beyond this, little is known about who he was or what he did, though several legends and myths exist. There is a story that Valentine was a priest who objected to a law decreed by Roman Emperor Claudius II which ordered that young men remain single, as married men did not make for good soldiers. Valentine conducted marriage ceremonies in secret, and was arrested for helping persecuted Christian couples.
As the traditions of courtly love became popular in 14th and 15th century Europe, Chaucer made reference to the romantic nature of Saint Valentine’s Day in his poem Parlement of Foules. On Valentine’s Day in the year 1400, a High Court of Love was established in Paris, dealing with love contracts, betrayals, and violence against women. Judges were selected by women on the basis of a poetry reading!
From then on, it became popular to exchange verses and declarations of love, a tradition which developed into the Valentine’s cards we send and receive today!
So, if you’re feeling loved up this Valentine’s Day, then make sure you let that special person know how much they mean to you!
(However, if you’re happily single, how about checking out some alternative Valentine’s celebrations from across the world here!)