Where does Valentine’s Day come from?

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Facts about Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day remains one of the most popular holidays and it is celebrated everywhere in the world. This is the day when everyone has the chance to reiterate to his or her loved one (or even an intended loved one!) that he or she is loved and cherished. But what are the origins of this happy and popular day?

There is no universal agreement regarding the origins of Valentine’s day. Some historians are of the opinion that it started off as a liturgical celebration for a number of early Christian saints that were named Valentine. The records are sketchy, however, to say the least.

The most popular account centres on Saint Valentine of Rome. He allegedly married Roman soldiers in secret prior to major battles. Of course, in those days Roman soldiers were not allowed to get married. Eventually, his secret acts landed him in jail. During his time in jail, he healed the daughter of his jailer, named Asterius, and fell helplessly in love with the girl. Just before he was executed, he wrote her a letter and signed off by saying “With love, from your Valentine.” And thus Valentine’s day was born.

To this day, Valentine’s day is formally celebrated by the Lutheran Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church as an official religious holiday. However, it is two different Valentines that are honoured. In the first instance it is Saint Valentine the Roman presbyter and this day is celebrated on 6 July. The Orthodox Church celebrates the life of Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna. This day is celebrated on 30 July.

Of course, most of the world now celebrates the day as a day of romance and love. Modern celebrations originated in the high middle ages when Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle of friends became known for embracing the spirit of romance. They presented their lovers with a key, which was a symbolic invitation to unlock the heart of the giver.

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