Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?

There’s nothing better than celebrating Valentine’s Day. Not only do you get the opportunity to express your love, but it’s also a day that you feel cherished. Even though you appreciate your significant other throughout the year, 14 February has become a day you could shamelessly shower them with chocolates, flowers, diamond jewellery and other gifts. It’s an annual tradition that we’ve all come to know and love, but where exactly does the idea behind Valentine’s Day come from?

14 February has become the day we celebrate our love for one another

14 February has become the day we celebrate our love for one another

From your Valentine, Saint Valentine

When it comes to the history of Valentine’s Day there are a few different versions. The most popular background story of the day is the one of a priest called, Saint Valentine – the man Valentine’s Day was named after. During the third century in Rome the emperor, Claudius II ordered all Romans to worship twelve gods. Saint Valentine, who practised Christianity, refused to give into his orders and was arrested and sentenced to death.

During his time in captivity, Saint Valentine’s jailer asked if he could bring his daughter, Julia for lessons. The jailer’s daughter was blind and with Saint Valentine being a knowledgeable man, he hoped his daughter would benefit from his company. He agreed and used his time in captivity to read stories to her about Roman history. Saint Valentine spoke to her about nature and religion and soon Julia began to see the world through his eyes. It was rumoured that the two eventually fell in love, and the evening before his death (the night before 14 February) he wrote his final letter to Julia signing it, “From your Valentine” – an expression we still use today.

Saint Valentine is widely recognised as the saint of love

Saint Valentine is widely recognised as the saint of love

A secret marriage, Saint Valentine

Another version of the story involves Saint Valentine being arrested and sentenced to death after performing wedding ceremonies for young soldiers against Claudius II’s orders. The emperor believed that single men made better soldiers opposed to those with children and wives. He then decided to ban marriage for younger men. Being the romantic he is, Saint Valentine went against the emperor’s wishes and performed the wedding ceremonies in secret. When Claudius II found out, Saint Valentine was sentenced to death. He then met his jailer’s daughter, Julia, and fell in love. Like the story above, the day before his execution, Saint Valentine wrote her a letter and signed it, “From your Valentine”.

Saint Valentine performed secret wedding ceremonies for young soldiers

Saint Valentine performed secret wedding ceremonies for young soldiers

Great escapes, Saint Valentine

In other stories, Saint Valentine was sentenced to death after he tried to rescue Christians from Roman prisons. The legend involved these prisoners being treated poorly due to them not following Claudius II’s rules. But, Saint Valentine refused to stand back and see his fellow Christians be treated unfairly. After his attempt to help prisoners break free, Saint Valentine was arrested, thrown in jail and sentenced to death. Once again the story ends with Saint Valentine meeting, Julia and falling in love, only to write the famous last letter he signed, “From your Valentine.”

Even though the true story behind Saint Valentine’s circumstance in meeting Julia is uncertain, the essence of the legend remains the same. Saint Valentine was a man with passion and commitment, who came across as a heroic saint during the third century in Rome. He fell in love and because of his sympathy towards humankind he was sentenced to death. But, his famous last words, “From your Valentine” has been carried out until this day. Today he is widely known as the saint of love.

He rescued prisoners, who were treated unfairly from the Roman jail cells

He rescued prisoners, who were treated unfairly from the Roman jail cells

When did Valentine’s Day become official?

While most believe that Valentine’s Day has become the anniversary of Saint Valentine’s death on 14 February, others believe the Christian church declared St. Valentine’s Day festival to replace a celebration called, Lupercalia. This former pagan celebration was considered a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus.

Valentine’s Day replaced a pagan festival called, Lupercalia

Valentine’s Day replaced a pagan festival called, Lupercalia

At the end of the 5th Century, Pope Gelasius made Valentine’s Day official. But it was only during the Middle Ages that the day became associated with romance. The 1400’s saw the rise of beautiful handwritten love letters also known as Valentine’s Day cards. Soon, couples in love dedicated the romantic day to their significant others. A popular way couples in love used to show affection was by spoiling each other with the gift of diamonds – a true symbol of love.

Saint Valentine

Today, February is known for being the month of love. Even though we cherish the love we have for each other throughout the year, Valentine’s Day has become a significant day we put aside to appreciate the special someone in our life. It’s the time we show our unconditional love for our partners with gifts they can treasure forever. On 14 February we share the love we have for one another with romantic gestures all around the world. What better way to show someone you love them, than with a gift of diamonds they will treasure forever.