The origin of Valentine’s Day is for the most part unknown, but there are several stories associated with the day that represents love.
Ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia. Lupercalia signified the beginning of spring and a time for purification. People celebrated Lupercalia by cleaning their houses. It was also considered a holiday meant to signify fertility. To begin the festival, which began on February 15, Roman priests would sacrifice a goat (for fertility) and a dog (for purification). They would then cut the goat’s hide into strips and gently slap women with the goat hides. Women looked forward to this activity as the ritual was believed to make them more fertile. Later that day, women’s names would be placed in a large urn and the males of the city would take turns choosing names from the urn and these men and women would be paired for the year, often times resulting in marriage. Many people contend that Christians found this festival un-Christian and encouraged a day that promoted love and fertility.
Another theory, is that Valentine was a priest during the third century in Rome. The emperor at the time believed that military men should not be married because he believed that it decreased their performance on the battlefield. The priest refused to go along with the decree and began to secretly wed couples. When his treachery was discovered, he was put to death.
Another story claims that while in jail, he fell in love with a daughter of one of the prison guards and wrote the first Valentine’s Day letter in which he signed the letter, “From your Valentine.”
Yet another story claims that he was killed for attempting to help Christians escape punishment from jails where prisoners were tortured and beaten.
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