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On This Day… The Mystery Of Valentines!

Written by: George Chittenden : 02 Jul 2019

It was on this day, 14th February, back in 496 AD when we began celebrating St. Valentine’s Day. However, it’s a festival shrouded in mystery. So, who was Saint Valentine? And how did he become associated with this ancient rite? The Catholic Church recognises at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. The day takes its name from a priest, Valentine of Rome, who was martyred in 269 and was added to the calendar of saints by Pope Galesius in 496.

So, what does this have to do with love? Nobody really knows for sure. The day became associated with love during the Middle Ages, which was when Valentine cards first appeared. Some believe it's because February 14th was the beginning of birds’ mating season in England and France, which added to the idea that Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

One legend says that Valentine himself fell in love with his jailer’s daughter and wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” before his death. Another theory is that the Christian church placed the St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February to Christianise the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture. Either way we’d like to wish you all a Happy Valentines from Pete and George at The History Project!

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