The Feast of Saint Valentine
The Feast of Saint Valentine is celebrated on February 14th, the day Saint Valentine was supposedly martyred. “Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D. ”
Saint Valentine (Valentinus), healer and Christian priest:
Patron Saint of beekeepers, engaged couples, greeting card manufactureers, happy marriages, love, lovers, young people
Invoked against: epilepsy, fainting, plague (Calamari 38)
Symbols: a pair of doves symbolizing faithful unions, the sword he was martyred with, the sun of honest knowledge, and the rose of ardent love, martyrs’ palms (Calamari 43).
270 AD To maintain an army, Emperor Claudius II (213-270) of Rome outlawed young men from getting married, believing married men were “unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.” Valentine continued to wed young couples in secret; when it was discovered, he was executed by being “beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off.”
Legend says that Saint Valentine sent the first Valentine greeting, signing it “From your Valentine,” to his jailer’s daughter. The yellow crocus sent with the card was the first thing the blind girl saw after her eyesight was miraculously restored.
“[The jailer’s daughter] is said to have planted an almond tree on Valentine’s grave, and to this day the almond tree is considered a symbol of friendship and devotion” (Calamari 41).
February as the Month of Love
Valentine’s Day may have been used to replace Lupercalia (February 1-15), a Roman fertility festival in honor of the goddess Februata Juno, the god Pan, and the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, who were raised by a wolf in the cave Lupercal; “The Romans considered this the official beginning of spring, a time of reawakening fertility and warming weather” (Calamari 41). Single men would choose a woman’s name from an urn and the two would remain a couple for a year, usually resulting in marriage.
The Langue d’Oc poetry movement in 12th century southern France had gallants, noble youths, send galantines that were confused with valentine due to pronunciation. The men were expected to protect the chosen woman’s honor while ” providing her with flowers, poems, and gifts throughout the year”; though in the end, the couple were not permitted to marry each other( Calamari 41-42).
February is also considered a month of love due to the English considering the middle of February as the beginning of mating season since it is when birds begin pairing (Calamari 42).
History Channel’s Valentine’s Day.
Hallmark’s Holidays & Occasions: Valentine’s Day.
Calamari, Barbara and DiPasqua, Sandra. Saints Ancient & Modern. Viking Studio, 2007. pg. 38-43.