Legend of Valentine
In the third century after Christ, Valentine was the bishop of Terni (Italy). He performed weddings
for couples who were not allowed to get married. They may not have been allowed to get married because
the parents did not agree with the connection or because the bridegroom was a soldier or a slave, so the
marriage was forbidden. Valentine gave to the married pairs flowers from his garden. That’s why flowers
play a very important role on Valentine’s Day. This did not please the emperor. On February 14, 269 AD,
Valentin was beheaded because of his Christian faith.
An expansion of the legend combines the day of death of Valentine with the Roman festival
Lupercalia. It was the festival of the great goddess Lupa, which is the feminine word for wolf. She was
the Great She-Wolf who nursed the twin babies, Romulus and Remus, who later became the founders of
Rome. During the annual ceremony, the temple priestesses (lupae) wrote their names on strips of papyrus.
These were picked by young men. After the lottery, the youngsters walked through the city and got the
blessings of the citizens. The martyr Valentine became the patron saint of the lovers. Still in the Middle
Ages, as in France or in Belgium, people were chosen by the lottery to live a year with each other and
people prayed to Saint Valentin to make love potions and charms.
United States and Europe
In the 19th century, the custom of sending Valentine’s Cards became very popular. The cards
usually have pictures of hearts or flowers and contain some sort of poem, message, or code. Codes and
simple messages give some people the courage to show their true feelings to the person they love. Today,
some people still use mysterious codes to show their love. People can use newspapers to give a coded
message to their loved one, giving other readers a view of the couples’ intimacy with one another.
Famous for the popularity of the celebration is the folk song called “Die Vogelhochzeit” (“The
In China, a holiday called Qi Xi is also called “Chinese Valentine’s Day”, especially by younger
people. Qi Xi is traditionally held on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. In recent years, it
has become more like Valentine’s Day in other countries.
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