St Valentine and the real story behind the origins of Valentine’s Day

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Every year, on February 14, hundreds of couples will flock to shops to buy their significant other everything from roses to chocolates, or even a bottle of champagne or two.

It is a day designed to celebrate all things romance, but the actual history behind why the holiday is called Valentine's Day or who St Valentine actually was is unknown to many.

Who was St. Valentine?

There are multiple theories as to who St Valentine was and what kind of things he stood for, but the most popular belief is that he was a priest in Rome in the third century AD.

During this time, emperor Claudius II banned marriage as he saw things like love and romance as a sign of weakness at a time when Rome needed hardened soldiers.

St Valentine opposed this school of thought, and opted to break the rules and help officiate weddings and arrange marriages in secret.

When he was eventually exposed for his 'crimes', Valentine was thrown in prison before being sentenced to death.

However, during his stint in prison, he fell in love with a prison officer's daughter, and on the day he was sentenced to death (February 14), Valentine sent the jailer's daughter a note signed "from your Valentine".

The real story behind Valentine's Day

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February 14 was a date that had sinister connotations long before St Valentine's execution, around this same time (Third Century AD), Romans would celebrate the feast of Lupercalia by sacrificing a goat and a dog before whipping naked women with the hides with the aim of making the women more fertile.

Two centuries later, Pope Gelasius I made Lupercalia illegal before declaring February 14 as the feast of Valentine; what we now know as Valentine's Day.

The Christian church wanted to adopt the holiday as one of their own, gradually, the name of St Valentine became a commonly used way of people expressing their feelings of love towards one another.

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