Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Although it is celebrated as a lovers' holiday today, with the giving of gifts between couples in love, it originated in 5th Century Rome as a tribute to St. Valentine, a Catholic bishop.
Before Valentine's Day came to be , the Romans practiced a celebration in mid-February celebrating a young men's rite of passage to the god Lupercus. The celebration featured a game in which young men would draw the names of teenage girls from a box. The girl chosen by the young man would be his "companion" for the year.

Pope Gelasius ordered a change in the drawing. Instead of the names of young women, the box would contain the names of saints. Both men and women were allowed to draw from the box, and the game was to act like the saint they drew during the rest of the year. As you can imagine the young men were not too pleased. Instead of Lupercus, the Church looked for a suitable patron saint of love to take his place. Thier chose was Valentine, who was beheaded by Emperor Claudiusin AD 270.

Claudius thought that married men made poor soldiers. So he banned marriage from his empire. But Valentine, knowing this law was ridiculus, would marry young men that came to him in secret. When Claudius found out Valentine did this , he tried to convert him to paganism. But Valentine instead tried to convert Claudius. When he failed, he was stoned and beheaded.

While Valentine was in jail , he fell in love with the daughter of his jailer who visited him. Before dying , he signed a message to her, "From your Valentine." The phrase has been used to this day since then.

Although the lottery for women no longer exsists, the mid-February holiday in celebration of St. Valentine was still used by Roman men to woo women. It became a tradition for the men to give the ones they loved messages using Valentine's name.

This is how the first Valentine card came to exist. The first true Valentine card was sent in 1415 by Charles, duke of Orleans, to his wife. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the time.
Cupid, came into use because he was the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty.
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