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The History of St. Valentines Day

February the 14th is the traditional day on which lovers send Valentines cards and sometimes a token of their love in the form of a gift. The history of Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint – in truth is shrouded in mystery, but we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both religious and ancient tradition.

In Ancient Athens this was the month of Gamelion, which was dedicated to the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera. In Ancient Rome the 15th February was the festival of Lupercus, the God of fertility. The priests would sacrifice goats to the god and after drinking wine they chose two young men to run through the streets of Rome holding pieces of goat skin above their heads, striking anyone they would meet with the goat hide. Young women would come forth in the belief that being touched would render them fruitful.

In the Catholic religion at least 3 different St Valentines, all Martyrs are mentioned in association with 14th February. . One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young, single men -- his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine.'  Pope Gelasius in 496 AD honoured Valentine with sainthood, and the 14th February became St. Valentines Day. This remained on the official church list of feast days until 1969 when Pope Paul VI dropped it from the calendar.

In the middle ages in England and France it was believed that birds started to look for their mate from February the 14th, heralding the start of spring, so whatever your belief St Valentines day is a time to celebrate the joy of sharing love and enjoy your romantic date.

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