Today’s history lesson, folks, addresses the obscure origins of Valentine’s Day. I know these days you can ask Siri anything, but she might sass you, and we promise we won’t.
It appears there may actually have been more than one man in centuries past who had the name Valentine and ended up sainted in Christian tradition. The most likely contestant for the inspiration behind our modern-day holiday was a priest who, around 270 A.D., refused to stop performing marriages for young couples.
Apparently, the Roman emperor at the time wanted all the eligible young bachelors to remain single so they wouldn’t be wimpy soldiers. He reckoned it’s hard to carry out a military offensive when you’re worried about getting killed in battle and leaving behind a family. Distracting!
So Emperor Claudius II, also known as Claudius the Cruel, signed the third-century equivalent of an executive order, banning marriages between young couples.
Valentine didn’t believe in thwarting young romance. So he continued to sneak around pronouncing people husband and wife. Good deeds in the name of love.
According to legend, the emperor had Valentine jailed and eventually executed. Not a pleasant finish, but it’s likely what led to February 14 being designated St. Valentine’s Day by the presiding pope in late-fifth century. Eventually, St. Valentine’s Day also became a day linked to love, and by the 1400s, people started celebrating the holiday by writing cheesy notes to their precious other halves.
The rest is history. No, wait, that part was history.
Is there someone you love? In honour of St. Valentine, such a great guy, be sure to reach out to the object of your affection. Take comfort in knowing no Roman emperor will divide you.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Love makes the world go ’round.