The Origins of St. Valentine’s Day Today
Valentine’s Day is one of the most commercially successful holidays in the world. The demand is high to buy chocolate, buy flowers, buy mass-produced love-letters, and even make construction-paper mailboxes for your school-mates to fill (or not) with pocket-sized tokens of their now-mandatory affections.
The greeting card industry seems to enjoy Valentine’s Day much more than the individual people subjected to the holiday antics.
Those paired off can celebrate the successful relationship they are already able to enjoy every day, and those who remain single….well, they get to stand by awkwardly as their friends flutter about with flowers.
How did such a holiday come to be popularly accepted worldwide?
There are several traditions explaining how Valentine’s became an internationally celebrated holiday.What your priest has to say
There are various Christian legends about a romantic named Valentine, who loved his way all the way to a jail cell.
One version tells of Valentine’s imprisonment for aiding Christians in ancient Rome, where polytheism was accepted, and Christianity was illegal. While in jail, he cured a jailer’s daughter of blindness. This miracle enraged Emperor Claudius, who had Valentine clubbed and beheaded on February 14th, 269 AD.
A more romance-centered variation on this tale depicts Valentine falling in love with a jailor’s daughter. He wrote her letters, and signed them, “From your Valentne.”
According to one such story, there was a well-loved priest who lived during the time of Emperor Claudius. Claudius, a notorious war-monger, was unsuccessfully attempting to recruit more soldiers, who were more interested in staying home with their wives and families than fighting in far-off lands. Claudius decided to eliminate his competition by making marriage illegal. No marriage, no emotional ties, he thought, so the soldiers would feel free to fight. Of course law cannot dictate choices of the heart, and people continued to fall in love. Priest Valentine was good enough to perform illegal marriages in secret. When Claudius caught on, Valentine was put in prison, where he died.
Eventually, the seven stories were conjoined with the pope’s declaration of a holiday in honor of Saint Valentine (in 496 AD).
The Birds and the Bees
According to old European tradition, February 14th is the day that the birds choose their mates for the coming year. Through poetic metaphor (or poetic interpretation of perceived metaphors, which were actually intended as statements of fact), birds became children, and thus on February 14th came to be seen as the day that children chose their sweethearts for the year.
The Consequences of Gambling
A related take on the origins of Valentine’s Day leaves the matchmaking to chance.
During the third century, AD, the Romans threw a feast to honor the god Lupercus, who watched their flocks and kept them safe from wolves. During the Feast of Lupercalia, the goddess Juno Februata was honored as the names of young women were collected and drawn by the young men.
The boys and girls thrown together in this lottery were considered to be matched for the year (the Roman calendar began in March).
As Christianity rose, the church created a practice of assimilating (and adapting) pagan holidays in order to remain competitive with the popular religions it was overtaking. Church officials changed the name of the holiday to St, Valentine’s Day, and replaced the drawing of girls’ names with a lottery of saints. The Christians were supposed to emulate the life of the saint whose name they drew for the next year.
The drawing soon reverted back to a lottery of girls. Another attempt was made to refocus the holiday by drawing saint’s names, but the second attempt was as unsuccessful as the first.
The lottery tradition evolved to the point where the boy would wear his girl’s name on his sleeve (possibly leading to the expression ‘he wears his heart on his sleeve), would attend and protect her over the next year, and would shower her in gifts and tokens of affection for the next year.
Later, in France, both girls and boys drew names, but, given that the chance-based name-drawing rarely happened to be reciprocal, this led to year-long chains of polygamy, with a boy courting a girl, as she courted a boy who courted a girl, who….
Suddenly the awkward and convoluted chains of affection that often develop naturally were being perpetuated in a chance-drawing devoid of choice!
The Tribe and Valentines
There have been hearts broken and hearts won in The Tribe. In the latest series we’ve seen love triangles that have torn hearts and friendships.
But there will always be love in The Tribe. Love is part of life and we can’t help how we feel.
Perhaps the strongest love we’ve seen in the Tribe was between Amber and Bray. Although it didn’t start out as love but friendship, through all their trials and tribulations their love grew stronger. And just as they were starting a family and hoping to settle down their world was torn apart by the Techno’s.
We’ll leave you wondering what “love” you can expect in the next series.