Valentine’s Day: A Romantic History

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Hannah Marino '18

What comes to your mind when you hear about Valentine’s Day? Chocolate, flowers, candy, teddy bears, hearts. Whatever you think of, there is actually a history behind all these tokens of love.

Back in the third century AD, the emperor of Rome believed that marriage made men weak. He was concerned for his army’s strength, therefore forbidding marriage in all of Rome. Meanwhile, there was a Bishop in Rome, Valentine, to whom secret lovers went to get married against the emperor’s orders. When the emperor learned of Bishop Valentine’s acts, he had the Bishop arrested. Infuriated, the emperor nicknamed Bishop Valentine as the “friend of lovers.” While Valentine was in jail, his jailer brought his blind daughter to the Bishop in hopes of having her healed. After miraculously healing the girl, Valentine and the jailer’s daughter developed a secret friendship together. Meanwhile, Valentine was trying to convert the emperor to Christianity. Consequently, Valentine was ordered to be executed. Before his execution, Valentine wrote the girl a note, ending it with “from your Valentine”. Valentine was martyred on February 14th, 270 AD, because he refused to renounce his Christianity. While there are many versions of the same story, they all contain the same themes of love in spite of opposition. Today, Valentine’s Day celebrates love and friendship, just as Valentine sacrificed himself to uphold these values.