The origins of Valentine’s Day

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The origins of Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is a very ancient holiday, most of whose traditions have been lost, but some rituals still exist today, such as sending cards or donating flowers and chocolates. Considered as the feast of already formed couples as much as the feast of those looking for a soul mate, Valentine’s Day is also the feast of friendship in some countries such as the United States.

Christian origins

A saint named Valentine …

The life of the saint celebrated on February 14 is quite mysterious. Valentin would be a Christian priest, died around 270. It is said that he was condemned to death by the emperor Claude II for having consecrated Christian marriages in clandestinity. the emperor had prohibited these marriages while noting that the Christians, once married, refused to join the military legions not to leave their family. Valentine’s Day would therefore have died as a defender of love and marriage. Since 1496, Saint Valentine is officially the Patron Saint of Lovers, on the orders of Pope Alexander VI. At that time, the protection of this Patron Saint applied above all to single people who were looking for a soul mate. The Valentine’s Day festivities were specifically aimed at giving young singles the opportunity to find a partner for life. Different customs existed according to the regions, such as the hide-and-seek part where the unmarried young girls of a village hid while the unmarried men set themselves the objective of finding them. The couples thus formed could last the time of the evening or go as far as marriage!

From Lupercales to Valentine’s Day

Many festivals of the Christian calendar were established on dates which, in the pagan era, were already celebrated by the populations. The objective is to combat these pagan rites while giving meaning to ritual practices linked to the cycle of nature. Valentine’s Day is one example among many. Indeed, by making this saint the protector of couples on February 14, the Church encouraged the celebration of love at the time of the beginnings of spring while fighting the pagan feast of Lupercalia which took place at the same period .

This celebration, linked to the origins of Rome, was a celebration of purification and fertility, the most significant ritual of which was the race of the Luperques. During this race, men chased the women and beat them with goat skin strips. The straps received were to ensure that women were fertile and had a happy pregnancy. When the Feast of Lupercalia was prohibited in 494, it had to be replaced by establishing both a feast of purification (the Candlemas) and a feast of love and fertility (Valentine’s Day).

The example of nature …

Couple of birds in love

According to popular belief, the observation of nature designates the date of February 14 as the ideal day to coo. Indeed, the mating season for birds would start on this date! We can then hear again the song of the chickadees, robins, robins and finches that until then the cold winter silenced. It would therefore be by taking an example from birds that love is topical on Valentine’s Day: in mid-February we are already starting to wait for the start of spring and to make plans for the summer. This morale boost encourages romances, of course …

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