Valentine’s Day

Festivals of India, February 14th, 2024
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illustration by Manish

Valentine’s Day, celebrated annually on February 14th, is a day dedicated to expressing love and affection between intimate companions. The origins of Valentine’s Day are somewhat unclear, with several historical and legendary accounts contributing to its evolution.

One popular legend suggests that Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine, a Christian martyr who lived during the Roman Empire in the 3rd century. According to the story, Valentine defied the Roman Emperor Claudius II’s order banning marriages for young men, as he believed that single men made better soldiers. Valentine continued to perform marriages in secret, and when his actions were discovered, he was imprisoned and later executed on February 14th.

Over time, Valentine’s Day has evolved into a celebration of love and romance. The day is marked by the exchange of cards, flowers, chocolates, and other gifts between romantic partners. Red roses, in particular, have become a symbol of love and passion associated with Valentine’s Day.

People often take the opportunity to express their feelings and appreciation for their significant others through romantic gestures, intimate dinners, or special outings. It is a day that encourages people to celebrate and strengthen their relationships.

While Valentine’s Day is typically associated with romantic love, it has expanded to include expressions of affection for friends and family as well. Some people also use the occasion to show kindness and love to those less fortunate by engaging in charitable activities.

Despite its commercialized nature, many individuals around the world embrace Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate love in its various forms and strengthen the bonds with their loved ones.

Story

The identity of Saint Valentine is not entirely clear, as there were multiple martyrs named Valentine in early Christian history. The most widely recognized and popularly associated figure with Valentine’s Day is Saint Valentine of Rome.

According to various accounts, Saint Valentine lived during the Roman Empire in the 3rd century. The most commonly cited story suggests that Valentine was a priest who defied the decree of the Roman Emperor Claudius II, who had banned marriages for young men. Claudius believed that single men made better soldiers, and he wanted to increase the size of his army. Despite the emperor’s order, Valentine continued to perform marriages in secret to help young couples in love.

Eventually, Valentine’s actions were discovered, and he was arrested and imprisoned. While in jail, he reportedly healed the jailer’s blind daughter and developed a close bond with her. Before his execution on February 14th, it is said that he sent her a note signed “from your Valentine,” which is believed to be the origin of the tradition of sending love notes on Valentine’s Day.

It’s important to note that historical records from that time are sparse, and the details of Saint Valentine’s life are surrounded by legend and folklore. The Catholic Church recognizes multiple martyrs named Valentine, and it’s challenging to pinpoint the exact details of one individual. Despite this uncertainty, the stories of Saint Valentine have contributed to the romantic and sentimental associations with Valentine’s Day.

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