Have you ever thought why every year, the Day, Feb. 14, people across the world are presenting their loved ones with candy, flowers, chocolates and other lovely gifts. In many countries loving couples celebrate affection and love. Dont you know that the actual reason which stay behind all of this fuss and buss is a kindly cleric named Valentine who died more than a thousand years ago.
The story of St. Valentine has several different versions. In short, according to the legend, Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II. Claudius was impressed by Valentine, and attempted to convince him to convert to Roman paganism.
When Claudius II met Valentine, he was said to have been impressed by the dignity and conviction of the latter. However, Valentine refused to agree with the emperor regarding the ban on marriage. It is also said that the emperor tried to convert Valentine to the Roman gods but was unsuccesful in his efforts. Valentine refused to recognize Roman Gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully. This angered Claudius II who gave the order of execution of Valentine.
Meanwhile, a deep friendship had been formed between Valentine and Asterius’ daughter. It caused great grief to the young girl to hear of his friend’s imminent death. It is said that just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper from his jailor, and signed a farewell message to her “From Your Valentine,” a phrase that lived ever after. As per another legend, Valentine fell in love with the daughter of his jailer during his imprisonment. However, this legend is not given much importance by historians. The most plausible story surrounding St. Valentine is one not centered on Eros (passionate love) but on agape (Christian love): he was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion. Valentine is believed to have been executed on February 14, 270 AD.
The earliest surviving Valentine is a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was being held in the Tower of London after his capture during the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. “I am already weathered of love (sick of love), my very sweet Valentine.”
Since that over the centuries, the holiday evolved, and by the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine’s Day had become common in England. Hand-made valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts eventually spread to the American colonies. The tradition of Valentine’s cards did not become widespread in the United States, however, until the 1850s, when Esther A. Howland, a Mount Holyoke graduate and native of Worcester, Mass., began mass-producing them. Today, of course, the holiday has become a booming commercial success. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are valentines.