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Tracing the Origins of Valentine’s Day

Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library

Cessia Cano, Staff writer

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For hundreds of years, Valentine’s Day has been marked in our calendars as a day of love and romance. Although we know what it signifies today, could it be possible that its origin began with an execution?

According to Roman history, in the third century A.D., the Roman empire was ruled by Emperor Claudius II. Claudius II was an ambitious ruler, and his battles required the soldiers to abandon their families and to home for long periods of time. The military men, eventually becoming homesick, shift their focus away from the battlefield. Emperor Claudius II, angered by such distractions and determined to stop it at any cost, therefore banned marriages all together.

But what does that have to do with Valentine’s Day?

A bishop named St. Valentine believed this new law to be unjust and defied the emperor in the name of love. With his religious position, he began to help soldiers marry in secret. It did not last long, and when the Emperor found out about the secret marriages being conducted, St. Valentine arrested.

During his time in prison, the jailer approached Valentine and begged him to heal his blind daughter. St. Valentine succeeded, and her sight was restored. Valentine and the young woman became close and quickly fell in love.

Soon after, St. Valentine was sentenced to death, but before his execution he wrote a final letter to the young woman, and his closing signature read, “From your Valentine.”

According to evidence, Valentine was executed on February 14, 270 AD. While history might never give us a precise guarantee of how it all started, it is refreshing to know that evidence points towards the possibility of it all beginning with an act of defiance and a stance for love.

Whether you are in a relationship or not this Valentine’s Day, remember to appreciate the era that we live in and the facility in which we can approach love of any kind.

Take a chance on making that first move with a crush, give your family a call, or tell a friend how much you care about them, and have a happy Valentine’s Day!

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Tracing the Origins of Valentine’s Day