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What does Valentine’s Day mean to you?



with Agency Report

THE origins of Valentine’s Day are not clear but many sources believe that it stems from the story of St Valentine, a Roman priest who was martyred on or around February 14 in the year 270 CE. 

   How he became the patron saint of lovers remains a mystery but one theory is that the church used the day of St Valentine’s martyrdom to Christianize the old Roman Lupercalia, a pagan festival held around the middle of February.

   The ancient ceremony included putting girls’ names in a box and letting the boys draw them out. Couples would then be paired off until the following year. The Christian church substituted saints’ names for girls’ names in hope that the participant would model his life after the saint whose name he drew. However, it was once again girls’ names that ended up in the box by the 16th century.

   Eventually, the custom of sending anonymous cards or messages to those whom one admired became the accepted way of celebrating Valentine’s Day. There was an increase in interest, first in the United States and then in Canada, during the mid-19th century. Early versions of Valentine cards, fashioned with satin and lace, and ornamented with flowers, ribbons, and images of cupids or birds appeared in England in the 1880s.

   Each year on February 14 since then, many people exchanged cards, candy, gifts or flowers with their special “valentine.”

   Also, St. Valentine’s Day has roots in several different legends that have found their way to us through the ages. One of the earliest popular symbols of the Valentine’s Day is Cupid, the Roman god of love, who is represented by the image of a young boy with bow and arrow.

   “But was there a real Valentine?” some skeptics always ask. According to a theory: “Three hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ, the Roman emperors still demanded that everyone should believe in the Roman gods. Valentine, a Christian priest, had been thrown in prison for his teachings. On February 14, Valentine was beheaded, not only because he was a Christian, but also because he had performed a miracle. He supposedly cured the jailer’s daughter of her blindness. The night before he was executed, he wrote the jailer’s daughter a farewell letter, signing it “From Your Valentine.” 

   Another legend tells us that this same Valentine, well-loved by all, received notes to his jail cell from children and friends who missed him.

   Meanwhile, another Valentine was an Italian bishop who lived at about the same time, AD 200. He was imprisoned because he secretly married couples, contrary to the laws of the Roman emperor. Some legends say he was burned at the stake.

   Whatever the odd mixture of origins, St Valentine’s Day is now a day for sweethearts and lovers. It is the day that you show your friend or loved one that you really care. You can send candy to someone you think is special. Or, you can send roses, the flower of love. Most people send “Valentine”, a greeting card named after the notes that St Valentine received in jail.

   Probably, the first greeting cards, handmade valentines, appeared in the 16th Century. As early as 1800, companies began mass-producing cards. Initially, these cards were hand-colored by factory workers. By the early 20th Century, even fancy lace and ribbon-strewn cards were created by machine.

   Valentine’s Day is a time when people show feelings of love, affection and friendship. It is celebrated in many ways worldwide and falls on February 14 each year. Many people see Valentine’s Day as a special day to express one’s love for another.

   Many people around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day by showing appreciation for the people they love or adore. Some people take their loved ones for a romantic dinner at a restaurant while others may choose this day to propose or get married. 

   It is also a time to appreciate friends in some social circles and cultures. For example, Valentine’s Day in Finland refers to “Friend’s Day”, which is more about remembering all friends rather than focusing solely on romance. Valentine’s Day in Guatemala is known as Day of Love and Friendship. It is similar to Valentine’s Day customs and traditions countries such as the United States but it is also a time for many to show their appreciation for their friends.

   Valentine’s Day is not a public holiday in many countries, including Australia, Canada, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States. However, restaurants, hotels and shopping centres may be busy around this time of the year.


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