I hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day. One of the fun things we do as part of our Mother’s Clubs is tell the stories behind American holidays. The story of Valentine’s Day is a particularly poignant one and a particular favorite. I thought I’d share it with you today.
St. Valentine was a priest in Rome during the reign of Claudius II, during the 3rd century A.D. Claudius was aggressive and ambitious and believed that single men made better soldiers. He pressed his men so hard that those who had families became disheartened and could not fight to their potential. This did not sit well with Claudius II, who consequently placed a ban on marriage.
A ban on marriage was outrageous to the priest Valentine. He continued, despite Claudius II’s decree, to marry young lovers in secret. When Claudius II became aware of the priest’s actions he captured Valentine and sentenced him to death.
However, while in prison, it is believed that the priest befriended and then healed his jailer’s daughter. Theirs was a platonic relationship, but also an intense one. She visited him often and begged for his release. On the night before his execution, Valentine wrote her a note. February 14th, 269 AD was the date of his execution and the note to his beloved friend was signed, “Your Valentine.”
It is believed that this Valentine became known as St. Valentine and was invoked when Julius I decreed the first Valentine’s Day in 500 AD. It was originally a religious holiday designed to remember sacrifices made for those we love. Many think this story gives us the answer to the birth of the Valentine tradition of giving and receiving love notes, flowers, candies, and other gifts of faithfulness and adoration to the ones we love.
Our observance of this holiday these days is pretty frivolous compared to its origin. But I do hope you take a minute to be grateful for your loved ones and to tell them so. True love always has an element of sacrifice in it because putting someone else’s needs above your own is the action of true love. Who has sacrificed for you? For whom have you sacrificed? Let’s bring back the true meaning of Valentine’s Day and celebrate it every day!