About two millennia and three centuries ago, Rome was battling hard against its foes to reestablish itself. Emperor Claudius II was also battling internally to get men to enlist into the army. After much thought, he came to the conclusion that men did not want to enlist into the army because they did not want to leave their wives and girlfriends. The logical solution to that problem was to put a ban on marriage.
Believing the law to be barbaric, Saint Valentine, a catholic priest, refused to follow the new law and secretly continued to join lovers in holy matrimony. But no good deed goes unpunished and eventually he was found out. Enraged, Claudius sentenced him to death. While languishing in jail Saint Valentine made friends with the jailer’s daughter. On the day of his execution he sent her a note, thought to be the very first valentine, thanking her for her friendship and signing it, ‘Your dear Valentine’.
Beautiful story isn’t it? Too bad 99% of isn’t true. But that’s the thing with legends. They usually start out as a true story but through time and human nature, they are blown grossly out of proportion.
Not much is known about the saint Valentine’s day is based on. In the Catholic martyrologies there is mention of not one but three men named Valentinus of whom the holiday could be honoring. One was a priest who, according to the Nuremburg Chronicles, was caught helping Christians during a time when doing so was abig no-no. The story claims that Claudius II sentenced him to death when he refused to renounce Christianity. It is legended that this is the priest who made friends with the jailer’s daughter, used the power of his faith to cure her blindness and deafness and left her the love note on the day of his death.
The second Valentinus was a bishop. A story on Bella Umbria claims this Valentinus was a bishop in Terni who would give flowers from his garden to the people who visited him. From what I understand, a man and woman who had visited him fell in love with each other and were so happy together that other couples would visit the bishop for flowers, I guess in the hopes of being equally as happy. The bishop was later killed during a Christian persecution ordered by Emporer Aurelis.
The third was a martyr who died in Africa and that is all that is known about him.
There is evidence that the priest and the bishop existed as their graves were dug up during an archeological dig that also brought up a church dedicated to bishop Valentinus. But the stories surrounding their martyrship still remains unconfirmed. However despite popular opinion, these saints were not associated with the date February 14 until the year 496 when Pope Gelasius declared the day to be set aside as the feast of Saint Valentines. His reasons were motivated more by politics than thoughts of candy hearts and chocolate roses.
During the time of the Greeks, mid-January to mid-February had been celebrated by Greeks as a time to honor the matrimony of the king and queen of the gods, Zeus and Hera. During this one month period, lots and lots of weddings took place. Later the Romans set aside February as a time of purification of the self and the city for health and fertility. The feast of Juno Februa and Lupercalia were held with these intentions.
By the time Pope Gelasius rolled around, pagan activities were outlawed but quite a few Romans still clung to the tradition of celebrating the feast of Lupercalia. To combat this, Pope Galasius outlawed the festival and declared February 14 to be the feast of Saint Valentines.
But still Valentine’s day had nothing to do with love and romance until about 15th century when the first documented association of love and Valentine’s day was made by Geoffrey Chaucer in his poem “Parliament of Foules” written in 1382. The poem had been written in honor of the first anniversary of the king and queen of England, Richard II and Anne of Bohemia and featured this sentiment:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese [chose] his make[mate].
Courtesy of Wikipedia
A survey conducted by one Jack B Oruch has found no other mention of any connection between Valentine’s Day and love prior to the writing of this poem and Mr. Oruch presumes Geoffrey Chaucer to be the originator of that myth. And the social atmosphere at the time of the mythmaking was ripe enough for it to take hold. The earliest official Valentine sent from one person to another was a poem written in 1415 by the Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was jailed in the Tower of London. It is believed by some that this is probably what sparked the “Legend of Saint Valentine”.
Though the myth of Saint Valentine proves to be somewhat less than romantic, the sentiment of Valentine’s day is what is most important. It is a day to celebrate love in all it’s forms. Yeah we should be telling the people we love how we feel everyday but the fact is most of us don’t. So this Valentine’s day, take a moment and just say “I Love You.” You don’t need flowers, chocolate or a fat diamond ring. As long as you are sincere, words will always be enough.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
(Much of this information was culled from the open source Encyclopedia, Wikipedia)
Oh and to show you just how much I love you I’m going to give you this totally awesome present, stolen from Anthony’s blog. Justin Timberlake’s Blank in a Box. (Warning: Slightly adult content)
A Special Christmas Box LyricsJustin Timberlake
FEAT. ANDY SAMBERG
Hey girl I got somethin’ real important to give you
So just sit down and listen
Girl you know we’ve been together such a long long time (such a long time)
And now I’m ready to lay it on the line
(Wooow) You know it’s Christmas and my heart is open wide
Gonna give you something so you know what’s on my mind
A gift real special, so take off the top
Take a look inside — it’s my dick in a box
Not gonna get you a diamond ring
That sort of gift don’t mean anything
Not gonna get you a fancy car
Girl ya gotta know you’re my shining star
Not gonna get you a house in the hills
A girl like you needs somethin’ real
Wanna get you somethin’ from the heart
Somethin’ special girl
It’s my dick in a box, my dick in a box babe
It’s my dick in a box, my dick in a box girl
See I’m wise enough to know when a gift needs givin’ (yeah)
And I got just the one, somethin’ to show ya that you are second to none
To all the fellas out there with ladies to impress
It’s easy to do just follow these steps
1: Cut a hole in a box
2: Put your junk in that box
3: Make her open the box
And that’s the way you do it
It’s my dick in a box… my dick in a box babe
It’s my dick in a box, my dick in a box girl
Christmas; dick in a box
Hanukkah; dick in a box
Kwanzaa; a dick in a box
Every single holiday a dick in a box
Over at your parent’s house a dick in a box
Mid day at the grocery store a dick in a box
Backstage at the CMA’s a dick in a box (yeah-wow-wow-wow-wow-wow)
A dick in a box, a dick in a box, a dick in a box…
[tags]Valentine’s Day, Saint Valentine, Saturday Night Live, Justin Timberlake, A Christmas Special[/tags]