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Who is this Saint Valentine?

Posted on February 11, 2013 by Jesse Schiller | 0 comments


This week people around the world will fall in love all over again. At least that's what our friends at Hallmark would have us believe. The truth is that Valentine's is a wildly different holiday depending on who you ask. Some love (pun intended) the opportunity to celebrate love while others loathe the idea of celebrating one's love with chocolates and flowers that are marked up 5-fold (in the name of love?). 

Wherever you stand on that continuum, it may still fascinate you to understand just why we celebrate St. Valentine's Day on February 14th the way we do. Well, we were fascinated at least, so we got to wondering: who is this Valentine character that we're celebrating? 

Turns out, people don't really know - though they do have their theories. 

What is (mostly) agreed is that Valentine was a christian cleric who lived in Rome about 1750 years ago. From that information, the stories (read: legends) vary greatly. 

One theory is that Mr. Valentine (as he was known by children before the whole posthumous Sainthood thing) was a romantic at heart. The story goes that Emperor Claudius II - then Emperor of the Roman empire - was more intent on making war than making love. To this effect he instituted a policy that all young Roman men would be prohibited from getting married until a certain age. This would leave them focused on the task at hand: conquering the world. 

Mr. Valentine, legend has it, didn't agree with denying the power of love and took it upon himself as Christian priest, to secretly wed the young lovers of Rome, citing as his rationale: "you don't need money, don't take fame, don't need no credit card to ride this train!". (OK, that may not have been Saint Valentine but rather Huey Lewis from Back to the Future but the message was the same!) Eventually, word spread to Emperor Claudius of the renegade Priest and the Emperor had Saint Valentine arrested and sentenced to death.   

This story certainly has the romantic undertones for a modern day hero of love though it also appears to have little foundation. 

The story behind Saint Valentine

Another theory, one for which Mr. Valentine eventually was sainted (a thousand years later mind you - enough time for a game of telephone to go seriously awry), is that his convictions didn't so much lie with the heartbroken youth of Rome but rather the persecuted Christians of the time. Christians sent to prison in those early years were often met with torture and death for their faith. Mr. Valentine seized upon his influence to begin breaking said Christians out of prison until Emperor Claudius caught wind of his indiscretions. As with the tale above, Valentine was then arrested pending a death date. 

However, as legend has it, all was not lost for Mr. Valentine in prison. There he allegedly fell in love with his jailor's daughter who had been frequently visiting the prison. Not long before being put to death he sent his love a letter, signing off "from your Valentine", and in-so-doing sending the world's first Valentine's day card. 

The Christian Church did eventually (a millennium later) bestow sainthood upon Mr. Valentine, declaring February 14th to be henceforth known as Saint Valentine's Day

 

the origin of Valentine's Day
The third theory - and perhaps my favorite - is that Europeans during the Middle Ages believed that February 14th marked the first day of mating season for birds. According to this theory, Saint Valentine's Day also occurring on February 14th was simply a loving coincidence, and that the eventual romanticizing of the day was mostly in celebration of the love habits of our feathery friends rather than that of an early Christianity priest. 

 

Whether you believe the tale of the big-hearted priest, the romancing birds or simply prefer the stories from your childhood, Valentine's Day today is ultimately yours to make what you will of it. We here at KOOSHOO take the day as an opportunity to share some extra love with everyone we know. And as it so happens, that includes YOU.  

Happy Valentine's Day. Wishing you all the LOVE in the world! 

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