Day probably has its origin in the ancient Roman celebration
called Lupercalia. It was celebrated on the ides of February
(February 15). In the Roman calendar February was in the spring.
The celebration honored the gods Lupercus and Faunus as well
as the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders
of Rome. As part of the ceremony the priests paired up young
men and women. The girls' names were placed in a box and each
boy drew a girl's name. The couple was paired then until
the next Lupercalia.
In 260 AD the emperor Claudius II, called Claudius the Cruel,
decided that young soldiers would only be distracted by marriage
and so ordered that young men might not marry. Valentinus
(Valentine), a Christian priest, defied the emperor and married
young people in secret. He was caught and executed on February
14, the eve of Lupercalia. His name became associated with
young love forever after. In 496, Pope Gelasius set
aside February 14 to honor him as Saint Valentine and it has
been St. Valentine's Day ever since.
In the Middle Ages some of the customs of the Lupercalia still
persisted in spite of the attempts of the Church to put an
end to these heathen customs and Christianize the holiday.
Both men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their
valentines would be. They would wear the names on their sleeves
for a week. Today we still sometimes "wear our
hearts on our sleeves" when we cannot conceal our
In the 1600s it became common to give flowers, particularly
the rose, as a sign of love as the "language of flowers"
came to Europe from Turkey. The color and placement of the
rose held a special significance - a red rose, for example,
meant beauty. Flowers have been part of Valentine's Day ever
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