It’s that lovely, romantic, seemingly Hallmark card-generated holiday of Valentine’s Day. This special day of observing love began in the 14th century, as follows from this site:
“Valentine’s Day occurs every February 14. Across the United States and other places worldwide, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the meaning and history of Valentine’s Day, from the ancient Roman ritual of Lupercalia that welcomed spring to the card-giving customs of Victorian England.
Saint Valentine, according to some sources, is two distinct historical characters who were said to have healed a child while imprisoned and executed by decapitation.
Where did Valentine’s Day originate from? The history of the holiday—and the story of its patron saint—is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman traditions. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Still, others insist that Saint Valentine of Terni, a bishop, was the true namesake of the holiday. He, too, was beheaded by Claudius II outside Rome.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine sent the first “valentine” greeting after he fell in love with a young girl—possibly his jailor’s daughter—who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and—most importantly—romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.”
We thought the rain may have ended, but it rained off and on all night, and then, this morning, when Tom left for his haircut, an indescribable downpour practically shook the house. I was awake several times during the night listening to the rain and overslept this morning, awakening only after Tom had left.
I bolted out of bed, wondering if we could get to Komatipoort today to go grocery shopping. We haven’t done so in almost two weeks, and Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard is looking quite bare. We’ve decided that as soon as I was done with this post, we could head out. But, with the sun shining, it might be a good time to go. So we are off and will return in a few hours, hoping to be able to get there with the roads open.
What are we doing to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Nothing special. We’re staying home for a nice dinner and evening on the veranda. Hopefully, many animals will come to visit, but with all this rain, the vegetation is lush, and they’re happily enjoying Mother Nature’s bounty.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all who celebrate, and for those who don’t, may you have another day of love.
Photo from one year ago today, February 14, 2022:
2015: Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii