Valentine’s Day is an international festival that celebrates the feeling of love. Though the festival commemorates the martyrdom of a Christian saint called St. Valentine, the festival as it is celebrated today, has very little religious significance. In present times, Valentine’s Day has assumed a secular and global flavour and is celebrated by people of all castes and communities. Another noticeable factor in the Valentine’s Day celebration is that the festival celebrates love in all its forms and is not just restricted to romantic love. People therefore exchange Valentine’s Day greetings with their parents, teachers, siblings, friends, sweethearts or anyone very special or close to them. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be an occasion to display love, affection and care for our families, friends and romantic partners. But today, it does not seem that way anymore, for families and friends are mostly wiped off the list, leaving only the partner in it.
Valentine’s Day started with a priest named Valentine who lived in Rome during the third century A.D. At that time, Rome was ruled by an emperor named Claudius II. Valentine did not like the emperor as he wanted to have a big army and expected men to join it. Many men just did not want to fight in wars. They did not want to leave their wives and families behind. Hence, not many men signed up. This made the emperor furious which led him to a crazy idea. He thought that if men were not married, they would not mind joining the army. Emperor Claudius then decided not to allow any more marriages to take place in the country. Young people thought his new law was cruel and preposterous. Being a priest, his (Valentine’s) job was to marry young couples. Even after Emperor Claudius II passed his law, Valentine kept on performing marriage ceremonies secretly. He would lead the couples into a small candlelit room. They would then whisper the words of the ceremony, listening all the while for the footsteps of soldiers who would arrive any moment and arrest them. Valentine’s time was over when he was caught one day. He was thrown into prison and told that his punishment would be death.
Consequently, many young people came to the jail to visit this priest. They threw flowers and notes up to his window. History says the men and women wanted Valentine to know that they too believed in love. One young woman who visited him was the daughter of the prison guard. She helped Valentine to keep his spirits up. She agreed that Valentine did the right thing by ignoring the emperor and going ahead with the secret marriages. One day, he left his female friend a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. Valentine signed it as “Love from your Valentine”. In honor of Valentine’s heroic death, the Pope declared that February 14th would henceforth commemorate the soft-hearted St. Valentine. Today, Valentine’s Day has become an iconic day for celebrating love and spending a lot of money on various gifts for our loved ones. This is how Valentine’s Day came to be celebrated.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)