There are some popular yet interesting legends associated with Valentine’s Day. Some of them trace the foundation of Valentine’s Day top pagan centuries while others connect it to one or more Saints of bygone Christian Church. Yet, another legend on the beginning of this lover’s day associates it to the origin of bird’s mating season. Eminence of this celebration is perhaps due to the mutual impact of all the legends along with the feeling that spring is the ultimate time for love.
Here are some most popular legends of St. Valentine’s Day:
• Feast of Lupercalia
• Saint Valentine of Rome - I
• Saint Valentine of Rome - II
• Birds Mating Time
Several historians all around the world find the origin of V-Day to pagan times during prehistoric Roman Empire. During that era, people arranged a holiday right on 14th February as an attribute to the mythological Queen of Roman Gods & Goddesses- Juno. Juno was also called the Goddess of Women and Marriage. Just after that day on February 15, began the fertility celebration- the Feast of Lupercalia. This festivity was held to shield humans from wolves & tribute Lupercus- the Roman Gods of Agriculture and Faunus besides the creators of Rome- Romulus and Remus.
During Lupecalia celebration, the associates of Lupercali- a group of Roman priests used to assemble in a holy grotto where Romulus and Remus were said to have been looked after by a she-wolf (lupa). Going with the tradition, the pastor would carry out a sacrifice ritual of a goat for virility and a dog for sanctification. The boys would chop the goats hide into strips, immersed them in sacrificial blood and come about the streets smoothly sprinkling women & fields with the same animal hide. Womenfolk willingly received a slap due to the faith that the ritual would make them more reproductive. Later, during the celebration, all the young women of the town, city or the village, would put a chit of their name written on that in a big pot. The bachelors of the city would then pick out a chit and get paired with the girl whom they find her name written on the chit for rest of the year. Quite often one year spending with each other, the couple would fall in love & get settled.
Later, when Christianity spread through Rome, the practice of finding mate through ‘lottery' was deemed un-Christian and outlawed. Around 498 AD, Pope Gelasius is said to have declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day. Some writers link Valentine's Day with Feast of Lupercalia because of similar date and connection with fertility.
Legends of St. Valentine
As per the indication of early Christian Church, there were two saints named Valentine. Some great scholars however, say there were as many as seven honored with the same name Saint Valentine or Valentinus, who appeared during Third Century and died on similar day. Below mentioned are some of the most eminent of all legends of St. Valentine-
Saint Valentine of Rome - I
In accordance with a very popular belief, Valentine was a Roman priest who lived during the sovereignty of Emperor Claudius II. Claudius is said to have put Rome in battlefield underlying several bloody wars. In order to reinforce his army, he incessantly needed to recruit as many soldiers as he can. But, he found that not many soldiers were ready to join the army due to family engagements and relationships. In order to keep soldiers away from the family bond or any kind of relationship, he banned all marriages yet engagements in Rome.
Valentine- a known priest defied his coldhearted decree of Claudius by arranging marriages behind the closed doors. When his defiance was exposed, the Emperor sent him behind the bars and tortured him brutally. On February 14, about 270 AD he was executed.
For his ordeal and kind cause he was named a Saint after his death. During Middle Ages, St. Valentine came into fame as the patron saint of lovers England & France to great extent that Pope Gelasius announced February 14 as Valentine’s Day on 498. This way the pagan celebration came to an end. Henceforth, Saint Valentine’s execution day became an event to celebrate love.
Saint Valentine of Rome - II
Another legend on V-Day states that Valentine was an early Christian in Rome. He was quite famous amid children, however during the phase when Valentine lived; Roman Empire wasn’t in the favour of Christianity. To make Rome free from Christianity, the emperors persecuted Christians and its followers. Regardless of this brutal law, Valentine carried out to practice his belief and disagreed to adulate Roman Gods. This made then the king Claudius II angry and he sent Valentine into custody.
It is said that Valentine was tortured brutally during his one year imprisonment and he was missed by kids a lot. The children began to throw loving notes as well as flowers to bars of Valentine’s cell window. To that extent, this fable may explain the custom of exchanging notes & flowers on Valentine’s Day.
Some historians as well as scholars believe that during his imprisonment Valentine befriended with jailer’s blind daughter who sometimes fetched the notes & flowers from kids. Whenever possible, he responded to the notes. Days before Valentine’s crucifixion, Valentino prayed for the daughter of jailer and she got her eyesight back. Before his ordeal, Valentine is also believed to have written a letter as farewell to her and signed it with words “From your Valentine”. This expression of love is still popular.
According to some scholars, Valentine was killed as he tried to help other Christians from the Roman custody due to brutal torture. Yet another group of historians say Emperor Claudius was intimidated by Valentine’s compassion and good behavior. He even declared that Valentine could be freed if he adulates Roman gods. But, Valentine refused the proposal and tried to convert Claudius as Christian. This made the Emperor quite unhappy yet resentful and he ordered his execution. On February 14 Valentine was beheaded.
Birds Mating Time
During Middle Era, the natives of England and France attained a popular belief that birds began to look for a mate right from February 14. This eminent idea further strengthened the idea that Valentine’s Day celebration which comes in the middle of February should be rejoiced as the day of love, romance, and compassion. The idea soon gained ground among lovers and they started to rejoice the day by exchanging Valentine flowers and gifts.