Valentine’s Day – another commercialized holiday. That’s how I’ve seen it. But there’s more to it than that. Remembering the name of my German aunt’s father – Valentin – and his Catholic “Namenstag,” or name day, reminded me that its roots run deeper.
Valentine originally appeared on the calendar when Pope Gelasius I, in AD 469, wanted to eternalize the memory of the martyr Valentine during Roman times. Valentine had continued marrying couples, even though the Roman emperor, Claudius, had forbidden it because he believed it was keeping men from entering the military.
The giving of flowers and notes may be associated with Valentine because of the weddings he performed and an alleged note he left the jailer’s daughter, signed: “Your Valentine.” She had befriended him when he was in jail.
Valentine’s Day later served as the day to bless marriages.
Valentine’s Day in the English-speaking world was first alluded to by Chaucer in his poem: The Parliament of Fowls. And the giving of notes for Valentine’s Day became widespread during the Victorian era. Here, some examples:
English settlers then brought their tradition with them to the United States.
So what’s in a name, you say? There’s a story.