Friday 13 February 2015

Valentine's Day - What is it?

What is Valentine’s Day?

Every year on February 14th, flowers, cards and chocolate are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of the famous St. Valentine. But who was St. Valentine and where does Valentine’s Day come from?

It is believed that Valentine’s Day originated from Lupercalia, the pagan fertility festival which marked the beginning of spring. It was celebrated between the 13th and 15th of February. The rise of Christianity in Europe saw many pagan festivals being renamed for early Christian martyrs, and Lupercalia was no exception.  The Catholic Church wanted to turn Lupercalia into a Christian festival, so Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day.

The true identity of Saint Valentine is unclear, but the most popular belief is that he was a Roman priest in the third century AD. The Roman Emperor Claudius II banned marriage, as he believed that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and children. Valentine felt that this new law was unjust, and continued to marry young lovers in secret, all in the name of love. When Emperor Claudius II found out, he threw Valentine into jail, and sentenced him to death. When imprisoned, Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. On February 14th, on the day of his execution, he allegedly sent her one final love letter, signed “from your Valentine”.

It wasn’t until much later that Valentine’s Day became definitively associated with love. Over the centuries, the holiday evolved, and by the 1700’s, exchanging cards and gift-giving on Valentine's Day had become a common tradition in England. In British culture, you can celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving cards, flowers or chocolate to your loved one. They are most commonly sent anonymously, so even if you aren’t feeling brave, you can still send someone a card or gift to show them how much you love them! February’s vocabulary calendar is full of romantic phrases that you may find useful! (click here)  Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  

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