In many parts of the world, 14th February is celebrated as the day of love every year. Everyone follows the tradition of buying and exchanging flowers, gifts and chocolates between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But, how exactly did St. Valentine go on to be associated with love and romance?
Valentine was a Roman priest who lived during the 3rd Century AD, when the Roman empire had converted to Christianity from paganism. Emperor Claudius, the then Roman emperor, prohibited the marriage of young soldiers. He was of the thought that unmarried soldiers would do a better job at fighting the barbarians than married ones, as married soldiers would be afraid for their wives/families if they die during the battle.
However, Valentine himself was a hopeless romantic who continued to marry love-sick soldiers to their sweethearts in secret. But, all those who have knowledge about Roman history know that anybody who disregarded a Roman emperor had to pay the consequences by either being forced to commit suicide or have their hands nailed to the senate door. So Valentine was arrested, imprisoned and tortured until his execution and there are myths and legends surrounding Valentine’s time in prison and before execution.
The man who was to judge him, in line with Roman law, had a daughter Julia, who was blind since birth. Valentine supposedly prayed with her and preached to her about Christianity, which healed the young girl with astonishing effect and led to her father also converting into a Christian. The last letter that Valentine wrote was to the young girl and he signed it as ‘From your valentine’, which inspires today’s romantic missives. He became a martyr of love and Julia planted a pink-blossom tree near Valentine’s grave as a symbol of abiding love and friendship.
It is in his memories that Valentine’s Day is celebrated till date and people give a token of love and appreciation to their near and dear ones.
There’s another story about middle age Europe, where there was a conventional belief that birds chose their partners in the middle of February. So this day was dedicated to love and people celebrated it by writing love letters and sending gifts to their beloved.