A History of Valentine's Day 

Legend has it it started in the time of the Roman Empire.

The modern Valentine’s Day is a time for friends, a time for family and a time for lovers. How did it all begin? The following are some of the origins of the celebration which has evolved into Valentine's Day as we know it.

In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday in honour of Juno, Queen of the Gods and the patroness of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the ‘Feast of Lupercalia’.

The Lupercalia Festival was a chance for Roman children, normally kept strictly separated, to meet. The boys would each choose a girl’s name from a vase. The boy would then partner the girl he had chosen for the duration of the festival. Sometimes the pairing would last an entire year, and often the couple fell in love and married.

Under the rule of Claudius II, Rome became involved in many bloody and unpopular military campaigns. Claudius the Cruel, as he was known, had some difficulty raising the armies he needed. He believed that as married men, his soldiers wanted to stay at home with their families rather than going to war, and so to combat this, he forbade his soldiers from marrying or becoming engaged.

An Italian bishop, Valentine, defied the Emperor’s decree, and performed clandestine marriage ceremonies. He was eventually arrested, imprisoned and put to death on February 14th in the Year 270. He was later declared a Saint.

As the influence of Christianity grew in the Roman Empire, Lupercalia was renamed in hour of Saint Valentine, in recognition of his sacrifice for love. The pagan connotations of love and fertility have endured, and remain to this day.

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