When the Roman Emperor Claudius II decreed that single men made better soldiers and outlawed marriage for those serving in the military, a priest named Valentine immediately saw the injustice of the decree. He began risking his own life to defy the emperor and he married couples in secret. Valentine was declared a “Saint” by the church in the 5th century, and by the Middle Ages, “Valentine’s Day” became a day celebrating love and romance for couples throughout Europe; and eventually, much of the world.
The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines“). In Europe, Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers “as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart”, as well as to children, in order to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine’s Malady). Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.
Posted by Stan McCormack. 2017 02 12