09:30 14 February 2017
Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated every 14th of February, is arguably the most romantic day of the year when people would go out their way to show affection to their loved ones with chocolates, flowers, cards and trinkets.
But what's really behind this holiday and why does it fall on February 14?
Valentine’s Day is thought to have originated from Lupercalia, a Roman fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture. During the celebrations, boys pick a partner for the festival by drawing names from a box. These matches often led to marriage.
The festival was outlawed when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St Valentine’s Day at the end of the 5th century.
The St Valentine that inspired the holiday may have been more than one man. The first saint officially recognised by the Roman Catholic Church died around AD 270.
In 1400s, Emperor Claudius II had banned marriages as he thought single men made better soldiers. Valentine then helped couples by celebrating marriages in secret. When the emperor found out, he was thrown in jail and sentenced to death and beheaded mid-February.
While in prison, he sent a letter to a young girl he had fallen in love with and signed it “from your Valentine”. It is thought to be the first ever Valentine’s Day greeting that inspired the giving of Valentine’s cards during the holiday.
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