Every year, Valentine’s Day comes as a reminder for us to celebrate our loved ones. The special occasion, celebrated annually and worldwide on February 14, is a commemoration of love, friendship and togetherness. But, while so much about the day is known, the reason why it is called what it is called, is still a little-known fact.
It is believed that Valentine’s Day is named after a Saint Valentine, who was a Catholic priest in Rome in the third century. And while there are many theories about him and his connection with the celebration, the one that has become most popular over the years, is the story we associate with the celebratory day today.
During his time, while many Romans converted to Christianity, the then Emperor Claudius II continued to be a pagan, and made strict rules about what Christians were and weren’t allowed to do. He believed unmarried and single Roman men made better soldiers than those with wives and children. He issued a decree preventing young men from marrying, expecting them to only be devoted to and serve Rome.
It was then that Saint Valentine emerged, and began getting them married in secrecy. Christian ceremonies were held stealthily, and it earned him the reputation of a man who believes in the importance and power of love.
But, it failed to remain a secret for long, and when it was discovered, Saint Valentine was imprisoned for his crimes against Claudius. During his time in jail, he cared for other prisoners, particularly for the jailer’s daughter, who was said to have been blind.
Legend has it that Saint Valentine cured her blindness, and that it was his final act of kindness before his execution. He even wrote her a letter before his death, which was signed ‘from your Valentine’. The saint was executed on February 14, 270 AD.
Some 200 years later, when Rome turned Christian and Catholic churches got rid of all paganism, the day was marked and proclaimed as ‘Valentine’s Day’, as an ode to the saint.
In modern times, people celebrate this day with their loved ones and express their love by sending them affectionate messages, gifts, cards, and by spending quality time together to honour their love and commitment.