Happy St. Valentine’s Day!
Candy hearts, valentine cards, chocolates, flowers. All Valentine’s Day images. The roots of St. Valentine’s day, however, are a little darker, shall we say?
According to The American Catholic website, St. Valentine himself, for whom the holiday is names, has a sketchy background, hard to pin down. He may have been a priest who helped persecuted Christians and was beheaded, or a bishop who was beheaded, or a priest who married couples illegally when marriage was forbidden and beheaded. Not even the Catholic Church is able to confirm which of these individuals actually was St. Valentine.
However, his name is associated with love for a very good reason.
For 800 years the ancient Romans had celebrated the Festival of Lupercalia, honoring the god Lupercus. On February 15, young Roman men would draw the name of a young woman who would then become his sexual companion for the following year. Pretty good festival, at least for the guys.
Pope Gelasius changed the lottery so that young men and women drew names of saints whose lives they must then emulate for a year. Much more Christian, don’t you think? He also changed the patron of the festival to St. Valentine. In addition, during the Middle Ages the belief arose that birds took their mates in mid-February, so the tradition of love continued, with people sending notes of love and small gifts to their spouses or loved ones.
I’m celebrating St. Valentine’s Day this year with a giveaway on by blog called Sweets to the Sweet. The “gifts” are an Amazon gift card, Godiva chocolate, and a complete set of Jenna Jaxon books (3 full-length novels, 4 novellas, and the out-of-print short story Heart of Deception). It’s not too late to enter! The contest is open until midnight tonight on Jenna’s Journal. I hope you come by and enter to win!