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Valentine’s Day – what’s love gotta do with it?

Have you ever wondered why do couples go to the ends of the earth just to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

I mean, you have to be go the extra mile just to show your loved ones how much they mean to you. These “extras” could be in the form of crazy expensive gifts or even super expensive dinners -- just for that Instagram clout.

On the 14th of February, gifts are being exchanged between loved ones all in the name of St. Valentine. Let us take a look back at the origins of Valentine’s Day to, perhaps, understand this phenomenon.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

St. Valentine was a catholic priest who lived in Rome in the 3rd Century. During his time, many Romans were converting to Christianity. But, Roman Emperor Claudius II was a pagan and he decreed strict laws dictating the actions of Christians.

For Emperor Claudius, Roman soldiers were expected to be completely devoted to Rome. Love and marriage were frowned upon and discouraged. But, love is the most powerful thing in the world and cannot be stopped by a royal decree. St. Valentine secretly married the soldiers and their lovers. This was the start of his reputation as the advocate for love. [1]

As expected, St. Valentine was caught and imprisoned. According to legends, St. Valentine tried to convert Emperor Claudius to Christianity. This angered the Emperor even further who then ordered St. Valentine to deny his Christian faith or be killed. St Valentine refused to forsake his faith and was eventually beheaded.[2]

Another legend told the tale that during St. Valentine’s imprisonment, he tutored the blind daughter of the jailer. Legend had it that St Valentine and the girl, Julia, prayed together and after their prayers, Julia’s eyesight was miraculously restored by God. Before his execution, St Valentine left a note to Julia and signed it as “From your Valentine.”[3]

Hence, St Valentine became synonymous with romance due to his reputation as a “patron of lovers”. In the late 5th century A.D., Pope Gelasius I declared February 14 as a day to celebrate the martyrdom of St. Valentine.

And there you have it, the brief history of Valentine’s Day.

So, how did a day to commemorate the martyrdom of a priest evolved to be one where couples are coerced into showing off their love for each other in the form of expensive gifts and dinners?

Shouldn’t love itself be enough? As we have all seen in the past year, love does triumph over all even during the darkest of days.

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

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