Sunday, February 14, 2010

St. Valentine (? to c.269)

I don't quite get it when people say they dread Valentine's Day if they aren't in a relationship. I celebrated it long before I had a boyfriend or even a grade school crush. Every year, my dad would get me a heart-shaped box of chocolates, conversation hearts, and a valentine card.
When I got older, I'd still get chocolates, a big bag of conversation hearts, and flowers. And, we'd make valentines in school and also pass out cards to our friends.
To this day, my dad always gets me candy and some kind of flowering plant on February 14. In fact, I should be hearing from him at any moment! So, my earliest memories of Valentine's Day predate any kind of romantic love.
St. Valentine is the name of at least two martyred saints from Rome, and another saint, and most of the stories conflict as to whose feast day it belongs to. Legend has it that when St. Valentine was about to be beheaded, he left a note to the jailer's daughter and signed it "Your Valentine." Other stories say he was a priest during the time of Emperor Claudius.
Love lotteries took place on February 14 which was the eve of Lupercalia, a pastoral festival which celebrated health, fertility, and lovemaking.
St. Valentine died c.269. His relic (his skull) can be seen in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. He is the patron saint of love and happy marriages.

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