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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day which is February 14 is Valentine's Day which is celebrated as a lovers' holiday, with the giving of candy, flowers, or other gifts between couples in love, It originated in 5th Century Rome as a tribute to St. Valentine, a Catholic bishop. For 800 years prior to the establishment of Valentine's Day, the Romans had practiced a pagan celebration in mid-February commemorating young men's rite of passage to the god Lupercus. The celebration featured a lottery in which young men would draw the names of teenage girls from a box. The girl assigned to each young man in this way would be his sexual companion during the remaining year. The Church looked for a suitable patron to replace the pagan god Lupercus, as a saint of love and selected Valentine, who, in AD 270 had been beheaded by Emperor Claudius. Claudius had determined that married men made poor soldiers, so he banned marriage from his empire. However, Valentine would secretly marry young men that came to him. When Claudius found out about Valentine, he first tried to convert him to paganism. Valentine tried instead to convert Claudius and when he failed, he was stoned and beheaded. During Valentine's imprisonment, he fell in love with the blind daughter of his jailer. His love for her, and his great faith, managed to miraculously heal her from her blindness before his death. Before he was taken to his death, he signed a farewell message to her, "From your Valentine." The phrase has been used on his day ever since. The first Valentine card was sent in 1415 by Charles, duke of Orleans, to his wife. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the time. Cupid, another symbol of the holiday, became associated with it because he was the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty. Cupid often appears on Valentine cards.