Valentine's Day may come from the
ancient Roman feast of Lupercalia. When fierce wolves roamed nearby,
the old Romans called upon the god Lupercus to help them.
festival in his honor was held February 15th. On the eve of the
festival the names of girls were written on slips of paper and placed
in jars. Each young man drew a slip. The girl whose name was chosen
was to be his sweetheart for the year. Legend has it that the holiday
became Valentine's Day after a Roman priest named Valentine.
Emperor Claudius II ordered the Roman soldiers NOT to marry or
become engaged. Claudius felt married soldiers would rather stay
home than fight. When
Valentine defied the Emperor and secretly married the young couples,
he was put to death on February 14th, the eve of Lupercalia. After
his death, Valentine became a saint. Christian priests moved the
holiday from the 15th to the 14th - Valentine's Day. Now the holiday
honors Valentine instead of Lupercus.
Valentine's Day has become a major symbol of love and romance
in the modern world. The ancient god Cupid and his arrow into
a lover's heart may still be used to portray falling in love or
being in love. But we also use cards and gifts, such as flowers
or jewelry, to do this. Forgetting to give flowers to a wife or
sweetheart on Valentine's Day can sometimes be as damaging to
a relationship as forgetting a birthday or a wedding anniversary.