The History of Saint Valentine's Day -
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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
The lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate.
However, one of the customs of the young people was name
drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names
of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed
into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the
jar and would then be partners for the duration of the
festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing
of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would
fall in love and would later marry.
Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II Rome was involved in
many bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius the Cruel was
having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his
military leagues. He believed that the reason was that roman
men did not want to leave their loves or families. As a
result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in
Rome. The good Saint Valentine was a priest at Rome in the
days of Claudius II. He and Saint Marius aided the Christian
martyrs and secretly married couples, and for this kind deed
Saint Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the
Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death
with clubs and to have his head cut off. He suffered
martyrdom on the 14th day of February, about the year 270.
At that time it was the custom in Rome, a very ancient
custom, indeed, to celebrate in the month of February the
Lupercalia, feasts in honour of a heathen god. On these
occasions, amidst a variety of pagan ceremonies, the names
of young women were placed in a box, from which they were
drawn by the men as chance directed.
The pastors of the early Christian Church in Rome
endeavoured to do away with the pagan element in these
feasts by substituting the names of saints for those of
maidens. And as the Lupercalia began about the middle of
February, the pastors appear to have chosen Saint
Valentine's Day for the celebration of this new feaSt. So it
seems that the custom of young men choosing maidens for
valentines, or saints as patrons for the coming year, arose
in this way.
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