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Origin Of Holidays

The History of Valentine's Day

The "saintly" title of this holiday was not always associated with this celebration. Originally, the feast of Lupercalia was observed to honor Juno Feruata {February} which is the goddess of lust. Each year love notes were made to pair up couples for feasting and sexual games. This was all in hopes of a great fertility season.

As the Christians came to power, they did not like the newly converted pagans clinging to their holidays. Instead of losing these newcomers, they changed the holiday to something more suited to Christian tastes. The love notes drawn were those of the saints to whom they were to try to follow for the year. This idea did not go over very well.

In order to completely kill the pagan ties, the newly sainted Valentinus, who was martyred on February 14th which would give another focus other than Juno to follow. Ironically, Valentinus, for which the holiday is named, observed vows of chasitity throughout his life.

According to the legend, Emperor Claudius II forbade all marriages and engagements. Valentinus risked his life to marry couples despite the decree. He was caught in the act and sentenced to death. While in prision waiting to die, he was said to cure the daughter of the jailer who was blind. She saw him and fell in love. No matter how hard she tried, she could not get his life spared. He was said to have left her a note signed, "From your Valentinus."

Although the custom was not completely rid of the pagan origins, it was tolerated by the church. Some of the customs that continued was the lottery-type pairing of the couples to exchange gifts and tokens of love. Back then, the giving was equal. Both the women and the men exchanged gifts.

Around the Victorian era, the shift was more noticable. It was the men who gave the gifts to the women they loved. There was no more lottery for love by this time. The men knew who they loved and showered that affection to their beloved [Sadie Hawkin's Day is the reverse.]