Valentine’s Day & Chocolate
Many will give the one they love a beautifully decorated heart-shaped box full of yummy chocolates.
Or perhaps a lovely bouquet of flowers. How about Jewelry? Bling!
Maybe dinner and a play, or some other expression of love.
In fact, it is estimated that this Valentine’s day, Americans will spend 17.6 billion dollars.
That is second to Christmas.
So how did this holiday originate?
There were three saints involved with this Holiday.
All three were martyred, and all three are listed in the accounts of martyrs or in early martyrologies under the date of February 14th. Very little is known about these three “saints.”
- One is said to have died in Africa.
- Another killed during the persecution of Emperor Aurelian in the late second century.
- And the third Saint Valentine was a Christian priest in Rome who was martyred in A.D. 269 for opposing the wishes of Emperor Claudius II.
Emperor Claudius was having a hard time recruiting new soldiers for one of his many military campaigns. Claudius blamed this on the men who prefer to stay home with their lovers rather than join the military.
As result of these lovers, Claudius declares that all engagements and marriages be cancelled throughout the land. Saint Valentine, however, continues to marry young lovers in secret.
When Claudius hears of this insubordination he has Valentine beaten to death with clubs and decapitated. Geez, Claudius, rough day in Rome huh?
I could see how they called this dude, “Claudius the Cruel.” Obviously this was a very serious offense in the Great Empire. This St Valentine is buried in Via Flaminia, an ancient road in Rome.
Saint Valentine is gone, but not forgotten…
At the time Saint Valentine was killed, Christianity had yet to completely displaced paganism in Rome.
As the story goes, in the third century AD, a pack of wild wolves was causing mayhem for the shepherds and their flock outside the city.
In those days people believed that the Roman god Luperacus would oversee the flocks and keep them safe. So on every February 15, for several centuries, the Romans observed a feast in honor of Luperucs, called “Lupercalia.”
During these celebrations the names of young women were put into a box and young men would randomly pick a name from the box. The couples were then paired off for the year.
In A.D. 496 as part of the Catholic Church’s efforts to Christianize pagan practices, Pope Gelasius
changed the date of Lupercalia to February 14, and renamed it in honor of St. Valentine.
The drawing of names was changed: girls names were replaced by Saints names and the men who picked the names from the box were expected to emulate the life of their chosen saint.
By the fourteenth century, lovers’ names were again being used, but the church attempted (without success) to bring back the saintly names in the sixteenth century.
Valentine’s Day Today
Although Valentine’s Day is still very popular today, the confusion over its origins led the Catholic Church, in 1969, to drop the St Valentine’s Day from the Roman calendar of official worldwide Catholic feasts.
The holiday is historically interesting because as with many Christian festivals, this holiday has Pagan origins, de-paganized by church, abandoned by church, and then it becomes a secular celebration.
Most people are unaware of Valentine’s Day pagan and Christian roots going back over two thousand years.
Yup, St Valentine may have crossed through the pearly gates a long time ago, but he was forever
immortalized and is celebrated each year with a heart full of chocolate. Happy Love day!