The Story of St. Valentine: The Martyr who Fought for Love and Marriage Freedom in the Time of Emperor Claudius II
During the days of the reign of Marcus Aurelius Claudius Augustus, known as Claudius II “The Goth”, the era was marked by a political and social crisis. In an attempt to bolster the ranks of the army, the emperor banned marriages between young men, who refused to join the armed forces under the cover of their right to marry.
However, Bishop Valentine took a stand against such a measure and began to perform secret weddings. Despite the emperor’s orders, Valentinian was still attached to his belief that the people should be free to love God and marry.
Claudius, for his part, had banned Christian worship, anxious to be venerated as the supreme god and Emperor of Rome. But despite the persecution, Valentine continued to secretly unite young couples.
Unfortunately, Valentine was captured and brought before the emperor, who realized that this was a man of superior conviction and fortitude. Claudius tried to persuade Valentinus to renounce his Christian faith and serve the empire and the Roman gods, but Valentinus remained true to his beliefs to the end, being beheaded on a date believed to be February 14.
Claudius had offered to pardon Valentine in exchange for his loyalty to the Empire and the Roman gods. But Valentine did not relent and kept his faith in Christ until his last breath. As a result, the emperor handed down a three-part sentence of execution: first whipping, then stoning and finally beheading.
Valentinus died on February 14, 270 AD.
Valentinus: A Story of Love, Faith and Miracles on Valentine’s Day
In prison, while awaiting his execution something miraculous happened. The jailer, impressed by Valentin’s literary skills, asked him for permission to bring his daughter, Julia, to receive lessons from him. Julia, who had been born blind was a beautiful young woman of keen intelligence.
Valentinus read her tales of Roman history, taught her arithmetic and told her about God. She saw the world through Valentino’s eyes, trusted his wisdom and found support in his quiet strength. Valentin fell in love with the blind daughter of the jailer Aterio.
During the time he remained imprisoned a miracle occurred and she regained her sight Valentine sent her a farewell note, signing it “from your Valentine.”
Even today, this message remains the motto for Valentine’s Day or Valentine’s Day celebrations. On the eve of his death, Valentino wrote a last letter to Julia asking her to stay close to God and signed it “De Tu Valentino.”
Valentino was executed the next day February 14, 270, near a gate that was later named Valentino’s Gate to honor his memory.
He was buried in what is today the Church of Praxedes in Rome. Legend has it that Julia planted an Almond tree with pink flowers next to his tomb. Today the almond tree is a symbol of lasting love and friendship.
On every February 14 Valentine’s Day, messages of affection, love and devotion are exchanged around the world.
Valentine’s Day Traditions in Great Britain and Italy
In Great Britain and Italy, the tradition of Valentine’s Day is celebrated differently. Impatient single women get up early before dawn to wait outside their window for the first man they see. Popular belief dictates that the first man to appear will become their husband for the year.
This tradition dates back to the times of the English playwright William Shakespeare who mentioned it in his play Hamlet (1603).
The character Ophelia sings a song with similar lyrics. Although this belief could be considered a legend, many women still flock to her windows each year in the hope that it is true.
Children in England also have their tradition on Valentine’s Day consisting of singing special love songs in exchange for gifts such as candy, fruit or money.
In addition, in some areas of England, special muffins made from caraway seeds, plums or raisins are baked to celebrate the day. While in Italy a special feast is held that turns into a big party.
Valentine’s Day Traditions: Snowdrops, Gaekkebrev and Greeting Cards in Denmark and North America
In Denmark the Valentine’s Day tradition is celebrated by sending pressed white flowers known as “snowdrops”. These are sent to the people most dear to them whether to partners or friends.
On the other hand, Danish men send funny letters called “gaekkebrev” and instead of signing their name, they write a rhyme and replace the name with dots, one for each letter of their name.
If the woman receiving the letter guesses who sent it, he rewards her with an Easter egg on the next Easter holiday.
In the United States and Canada, children are famous for making and exchanging greeting cards known as valentines. Older students take the opportunity to hold valentine dances and parties.
Gifts and cards decorated with hearts and cupids are common on this date. Many people send flowers, candy or other gifts to their sweethearts. Many chocolate boxes are shaped like a heart and have a red ribbon. However, these are just a few of the many ways the world currently celebrates Valentine’s Day.
Romantic Valentine’s Day traditions around the world
In Korea, women show their love to men with chocolate. In New York seven couples have the unique opportunity to get married on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, becoming members of the Bridal Club and getting free admission on their anniversary.
Meanwhile, in Japan thousands of lovers travel to Lovers’ Point on Mount Fuji to ring the “Love Bell” and turn their relationship into true love.