Every celebration has its story. Have you heard the one of Saint Valentine’s, celebrated every February 14th? To be very honest, its very origin is discussed.
One of them goes back to the Middle Ages. This is at this time the Church decided to celebrate Valentine of Terni, a priest martyred by the Roman Empire. In the 3rd century, the latter used to host Christian weddings, then banned by the emperor Claudius II who feared men would be too attached to their wives. Celebrating secret weddings caused Valentine of Terni to be arrested. He was then condemned to death on… February 14th. In 495, Pope Gelasius I decided to canonize him and name him as the patron saint of lovers.
Another origin, another story, but pagan. Once again, you have to travel all the way back to the Antiquity, since at this time, Romans celebrated Lupercus between February 13 and 15th, Lupercus being the god of fertility and protector of the wolves, by hosting in the streets of Rome the Lupercalia. During this festival, priests used to flagellate passersby with leather strips, thinking this will make them more fecund.
Last but not least, another legend, another country, another era. In the 14th century, for British people, February 14th rimed with the beginning of the love season, for it is from this day forth birds started to mate. Therefore, bashful lovers used to declare their love by writing love poems during this period. A custom Charles of Orleans – then imprisoned in England – decided to bring back to France in the 15th century.
Today, many people have decided to make the most of this celebration: pâtissiers, florists, perfumers… They all bend over backwards to offer the little extra that will make their hearts skip a beat.