For such a small holiday, it gets plenty of press.

Some love it, others hate it.

Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest commercial holidays in Europe and the U.S.A. On the 14th of February, people shower their loved ones with red roses, embellished cards, and boxes of chocolate.

But how did this holiday begin?

As a fun break from the normal land lording talk, I’ve researched a bit of that story.

The Man

There have been many saints in the history of the Catholic Church named Valentine, but the holiday appears to be named after one who lived during the 3rd century, while Claudius was emperor of Rome.

With the walls of civilization crumbling and the empire hanging by a thread, Emperor Claudius made a drastic decision.

He believed familial ties weakened soldiers and therefore banned marriage among the young. Valentine, a priest, saw marriage as a God-given sacrament and continued to marry young couples in secret. Before long his rebellion was discovered and Valentine was imprisoned.

Some say that while the priest was in prison, couples who had benefited from his disobedience would visit him and slip notes or flowers through the bars of his cell. Further legends have it that he fell in love with the daughter of his prison warden after curing her of blindness.  On the day of his execution, February 14th, he wrote her a farewell letter signed “From your Valentine” – and a tradition was born.

The Holiday

A pope in the 5th century set aside the day in honor of St. Valentine, but the holiday was not connected with romantic love until Chaucer and Shakespeare introduced the idea in the Middle Ages. Hallmark thanks them for it, I’m sure.

I don’t know if most of us like to think about ancient emperors and beheaded priests on this festive day, but perhaps it would behoove us to remember a man who sacrificed everything for his belief in the importance of love.

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