We hate to burst your loved-up bubble, but it turns out the history behind Valentine’s Day isn’t as warm and fuzzy as we all thought.
While most of us will pick up a bouquet of flowers a box of chocolates or anything that makes us feel all gooey inside, the story behind the age-old tradition is actually pretty grim.
St. Valentine is said to have been born in Umbria, Italy in 226 AD and went on to become an esteemed catholic priest.
Many versions of the story has been told over the years, however, the most common one is that the Roman Emperor at the time, Claudius II, banned marriage, because he thought it made men bad soldiers.
St. Valentine the rebel
Old romantic, St. Valentine, apparently was having none of this and decided to marry men and women in secret – all in the name of love.
Soon enough, Claudius found out about St. Valentine’s escapades and threw him in jail. This is where things get a bit grisly.
St. Valentine was sentenced to death but before he was killed, he is said to have fallen in love with the daughter of one of the jail guards.
Just before his death, St. Valentine is said to have written a love letter to the woman, signing it, ‘From your Valentine”.
Another version of the story claims that St. Valentine was actually imprisoned for helping convicts to escape prison in Rome.
In 1836, the remains of St. Valentine were brought to Ireland, after they were gifted to an Irish Carmelite by Pope Gregory XVI.
There is now a shrine dedicated to St. Valentine at Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin.
Bizarre Roman festival
Roman Catholics had celebrated the feast of Lupercalia for years, from February 13th to 14th.
During the weekend festivities, men would whip women with the hides of animals they had sacrificed, in a fertility ritual.
Men would draw a woman’s name from a jar and she would be matched with him for the whole festival.
It’s thought the Christian church later wanted to turn that festival into a Christian celebration and decided to honour the life of St Valentine at the same time – which later became St. Valentine’s Day.
Throughout the years, authors have romanticised the day, eventually turning it into the lovefest that it is now.
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