Today is Valentine’s Day, and my researcher’s mind can’t help but look up the “whos” and the “whys” of the event.
There are actually 14 martyred Valentines mentioned in historical and Christian records.
Valentine was a pretty common name, but the day is allegedly attributed to one particular Valentine of Rome (Valentinus presb. m. Romae), who lived in the time of Emperor Claudius II.
This was 42 years before Christianity was accepted under Emperor Constantine in 312AD, so Christians were still pretty quiet about their new-found religion.
Claudius had this belief that only single men made good soldiers and made a law forbidding soldiers to marry. Married men were reluctant to leave their families when it came time to go to war, and cautious on the battlefield.
The Imperial Roman army was mainly volunteer at that time.
Valentinus presbyr was a Christian priest and was arrested performing a forbidden marriage under a forbidden religion.
Claudius is reported to have been impressed with Valentinus and interrogated him personally in an attempt to get him to renounce his religion. It would have been a triumph for Claudius to convert the popular Valentinus, but instead, Valentinus tried to convert Claudius to Christianity.
This just made Claudius mad and Valentinus was sentenced to death.
In prison, Valentine reportedly performed a miracle, curing the jailer’s daughter of blindness. Before he went to his execution, he gave her a personal note and signed it, “From your Valentine.”
Romans were big on making the prisoner suffer before he died, so Valentine was beaten with sticks, then stoned, and finally beheaded.
He was buried on February 14, 269AD, the day before the start of the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia in honor of Juno, Queen of Roman Gods and Goddesses and the Goddess of women and marriage.
It may have been a message sent by Claudius that Valentine the marriage priest was executed just before the start of the festival, when young men drew the names of girls from jars or boxes, and partnered with them for the duration of the festival. Often, these relationships developed into love and marriage.
The love custom of men choosing their life partners was forever connected with the memory of Valentine’s Day.
And the custom of handing lover’s personal notes “from your Valentine” has also survived.
When a person asks an intended partner to “be my Valentine,” it is more than a request to be a lover. The etymology of the name Valentine is “strong” or “healthy.”
“Be my Valentine” means “be my strength” and is a request to be a strong partner.
As time went on, traditions have been established and grown. From the original idea that a token gift should accompany the personal note, gifts have grown to jewelry, flowers, candy and more. Hotel room rentals and restaurants are at their peak on this day.
The red rose has come to symbolize the color of love and passion. Our blood is red, and our complexions may reflect that in time of passion. Red is the color of heat in the form of lava or fire. Since it is the longest wavelength we can see, it is the color of beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Rearranging the letters of “rose” gives us the name Eros, the Roman god of love. And finally, psychological research has shown that men find women who are wearing red more attractive.
Enjoy the day. Live a vital life.