Saint Valentine's Day
The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine's Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair.
Thus in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules we read:
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.
For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers' tokens. Both the French and English literature of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries contain allusions to the practice. Perhaps the earliest to be found is in the 34th and 35th Ballades of the bilingual poet, John Gower, written in French; but Lydgate and Clauvowe supply other examples:
Those who chose each other under
these circumstances seem to have been called by each other their Valentines.
In the Paston Letters, Dame Elizabeth Brews writes thus about a match she hopes to make for her daughter (I modernize the spelling), addressing the favored suitor:
And, cousin mine, upon Monday is Saint Valentine's Day and every bird chooses himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion.
Shortly after the young lady herself wrote a letter to the same man addressing it "Unto my rightwell beloved Valentine, John Paston Esquire". The custom of choosing and sending valentines has of late years fallen into comparative desuetude.
At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under date of 14 February. One is described as am priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and these two seem both to have suffered in the second half of the third century and to have been buried on the Flaminian Way, but at different distances from the city. In William of Malmesbury’s time what was known to the ancients as the Flaminian Gate of Rome and is now the Porta del Popolo, was called the Gate of St. Valentine. The name seems to have been taken from a small church dedicated to the saint, which was in the immediate neighborhood. Of both these St. Valentines some sort of Acta are preserved but they are of relatively late date and of no historical value. Of the third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions, nothing further is known.
First: Story of St. Valentine
Valentine was a pagan priest who lived during the grotesque Roman persecution against Christians. Though he was not a Christian himself, he was repulsed by the Roman tortures and began secretly to protect believers. Helping Christians was a serious crime and Valentine landed in a dull, dark prison. His time there would have been fairly short, except while there, he became a Christian. The result: Valentine was sentenced to death. "For Valentine, love...was a love tough enough to survive the rugged times of life" During his last days, Valentine often thought of his family and friends. Since they were forbidden to visit, they developed a unique way of sending messages to each other. Valentine would squeeze his arm through the bars in his window to reach the violets that grew outside. Each day, after picking a heart-shaped leaf, he would carefully pierce it with a message like “Remember your Valentine.” He would then send it to his loved ones by way of homing pigeons supplied by his family. Toward the end of his life the message changed to a simple, daily “I love you.” When he refused to renounce his Christian faith and turn back on the Lord he had grown to love, Valentine was clubbed to death in his cell on Feb. 14, 269 AD.
Second: Story of St. Valentine
One of the traditions of the festival took place on the eve of the festival, February 14th. The names of the Roman girls were written on pieces of paper. The young men would draw the name of a girl and she would become his sweetheart for the year.
According to legend, a priest by the name of Valentine was ordered to die by Claudius II, simply for marrying Roman soldiers. Claudius had ordered the soldiers not to marry. Apparently he never heard the saying "make love, not war".
Third: Story of St. Valentine
In 270 A.D., the emperor of Rome, Claudius II, had outlawed marriage. Claudius issued this decree because he thought that married men made bad soldiers since they were reluctant to be torn away from their families in the case of war. Claudius had also outlawed Christianity in this time period because he wished to be praised as the one supreme god, the Emperor of Rome.
Valentine was the bishop of Interamna during this period of oppression. Valentine thought that the decrees of Rome were wrong. He believed that people should be free to love God and to marry. Valentine invited the young couples of the area to come to him. When they came, Valentine secretly performed services of matrimony and united the couples.
Valentine was eventually caught and was brought before the emperor. The emperor saw that Valentine had conviction and drive that was unsurpassed among his men. Claudius tried and tried to persuade Valentine to leave Christianity, serve the Roman Empire and the Roman gods. In exchange, Claudius would pardon him and make him one of his allies. St. Valentine held to his faith and did not renounce Christ. Because of this, the emperor sentenced him to a three-part execution. First, Valentine would be beaten, then stoned, and then finally, decapitated. Valentine died on February 14th, 270 A.D.
in prison, waiting for his sentence to be carried out, Valentine fell in love
with the jailer's daughter, the blind Asterius. During the course of
Valentine's prison stay, a miracle occurred and Asterius regained her sight.
Valentine sent her a final farewell note. He signed his last note, "From
Your Valentine." Even today, this message remains as the motto for our
Valentine's Day celebrations.
"CLICK", for a Stupid Valintine, in your "Honor".
From the KeeseFamily