Some people believe in celebrating love throughout their lives, some believe in making one day special, that day is the Valentine’s day. It falls on the 14th of February every year and calls for the celebration of love throughout the world, except in Brazil. In Brazil, the Valentine’s day is celebrated on the 12th of June. When love is in the air and when cupids fly freely, people simply devote this day to their beloved but do we know why? Why is the Valentine’s day celebrated? There are many folklores and legends about this.
Some legends trace back to the festival of Lupercalia celebrated in ancient Rome. It is said that the Christian church, in order to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, began the celebration of this day as Valentine’s day. A big urn, filled with chits of the names of eligible women was prepared, wherein young men would choose a name. Such pairings often resulted in marriage.
One of the legends says that, during the era of the Roman empire, in 270 A.D., there was a priest named Saint Valentine. At that time, the young men were prohibited from entering into the vow of marriage, with the intention that they would then make better soldiers. But Saint Valentine secretly performed marriages, going against the wish of the then Roman Emperor, Claudius II. A version of this legend states, that Saint Valentine, was arrested where he fell in love with Asterius, the jailor’s daughter and wrote a farewell letter to her, signed as ‘Your Valentine’. Consequently he was put to death on the 14th of February. But we cannot verify this as the name Valentine was very popular during that era and there were lots of executions of people with this name. So he is referred to as Valentine of Rome.
According to history, there was one more Valentine, but of Terni, his feast also lies on the 14th of February. He is said to have been executed because he remained unshaken in his faith and refused to convert! Some credit the association of love to this day to Chaucer. In 1381, Chaucer composed a poem in honor of the engagement between England’s Richard II and Anne of Bohemia in respect for their love and affection held on the 14th of February.
Another legend says about Valentinus who was executed again on the 14th of February for helping Christians escape from Roman Prisons to evade the torture suffered by them there. In the same story, sources also state that, Valentine was executed for attempting to convert emperor Claudius II to Christianity when the emperor, in order to save Valentinus’ life was attempting to convert him to Roman paganism.
It is very difficult to ascertain the actual fact, we may choose to believe any one of these legends. But, what is important is, that we remember the meaning given out by all these legends and that is the meaning of love, of faith, of expression and of celebration!