"The hunger for love is more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread." Mother Theresa
Who was Saint Valentine?
So, who was St., Valentine and why do we celebrate this day Ferbruary 14th? Even historians can't seem to agree on the origins of Valentine's Day.
One of the commonly agreed on stories is that the idea of Valentine's Day started in the time of the Roman Empire. In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia.
In those days, girls and buys lived separately from each other. However, on the day before the festival of Lupercalia, girls and boys would both write their names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. Each young man would pick a girl's name from the jar, and spend the entire day of the festival with her. Sometimes this "pairing" would last a whole year, and often, they would fall in love and later get married.
There have also been stories of three St. Valentine's. There is very little information about two of them, but the legend that has survived the longest and which historians seem to agree upon the most is the following one.
Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular wars. Claudius was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his army because they didn't want to leave their wives and families. Since Claudius felt thatr single men would be more likely to join the army, he cancelled all marriages and engagements and refused to allow lovers to get married.
However, Saint Valentine, a Christian Roman priest in the days of Claudius II, refused to obey the emperor and continued to secretly pperform marriage ceremonies. Eventually, the Roman authorities caught him and put him to death. The Catholic church then made him a saint and gave him the special feast day of February 14th, the day he was supposedly executed.
Another legend is that when the emperor Claudius put Valentine in jail, he fell in love with the jailer's daughter. Before he died, he supposedly sent her a letter signed "from your Valentine. "
The holiday continued to change over the next few centuries, but by the 18th century it had become customary for lovers to exchange hand made cards and gifts on Valentine's Day. Americans soon picked up on this idea, but the practice did not become really common until Esther A Howland, began mass-producing Valentine's Day cards.
Today, the holiday has become a huge commercial success. In 2009, Valentine's Day generated an estimated $14.7 billion in U.S. retail sales. Each year, people buy about a billion Valentine's cards, 100 million roses (in a 3-day period) and 35 million heart-shaped boxes of candy. The average consumer spends $77 on Valentine's Day gifts.
Check out my next post for a few Valentine's Day links to have fun with.