Chocolates, flowers, love, romance, and that special gift for that special someone come to mind when we think about Valentine's Day. But why do we celebrate Valentine's Day? Did St. Valentine really exist?
Despite the many stories you've heard about Saint Valentine, no one knows his true story. Legend has it that he was a Roman priest who performed secret weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry. Apparently, Valentine performed these weddings against the wishes of a Roman emperor who stated that "married soldiers fail to make suitable warriors". Claudius II, the Roman emperor, executed Valentine when his actions were discovered. Despite this, some believe that St. Valentine of Terni, a bishop, was the true namesake of the holiday. Claudius II also beheaded him outside Rome.
Another story suggests that Valentine was killed for helping Christians escape Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. It is said that an imprisoned Valentine, who fell in love with a young girl visiting him while in his cell, sent the first "valentine" himself. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today
Valentine's Day's history was further changed in 1382 with the publication of the poem "Parlement of Foules" by Geoffrey Chaucer. It is believed that this poem contains the first instance of Valentine's Day being associated with love.
Valentine's Day has been a religious holiday, a ritual day, and a commercial holiday for centuries. Due to all that has changed, Valentine's Day can mean whatever you want it to mean: you can go out for a romantic dinner, buy some chocolates, or acknowledge the you love in your life. Let's celebrate the day of love in whatever way we like, even if it's just through self-love.