Aaaah! St Valentine’s Day!

Federica, Editor

The Story of the Saint who was transformed into Cupid

Valentine’s Day, what a nice festivity… not.

St. Valentine’s is one of the most questionable days of the year. Some people find it an extremely happy and sweet time of the year, others see it as a sad and bitter day to forget.

Some spend it surrounded by lots of roses, many hearts or in romantic restaurants while others are surrounded by empty tubs of ice-cream, piles of dirty tissues and fancy ( but empty) chocolate boxes.

Now tell me, have you ever asked yourself what is behind all this commotion? Why is the 14th day of just another month the most hated and loved of the year?

Mid-February has always been a period of celebration, beginning with the Romans who celebrated Lupercalia, a harvest festival. It is believed that Lupercalia was a paganised version of what we celebrate nowadays. The transformation of this festival into a religious holiday occurred during the rise of Christianity towards the end of the 5th century AD; when Pope Gelasius declared February 14th St. Valentine’s Day.

But who was St. Valentine?

There are three different saints with the name Valentine but legend says that the one celebrated on the 14th of February who became a martyr when he was killed by Emperor Claudius II for celebrating secret marriages between young lovers when marrying was forbidden by law (the emperor believed that single men were better soldiers).

Furthermore, a romantic note was added with the belief that bird’s mating season begins the 14th of February.

As you can see Valentine’s Day is not at all a modern holiday. People started celebrating it the way we do, through cards and letters, around the fifteenth century. The most well-known example is the love poem Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent to his wife whilst imprisoned in the London Tower.

The real popular celebrations began in the seventeenth century, and by the eighteenth century sending notes or small gifts was a common practice. In the 1900’s industrially printed cards started to be produced.

Valentine’s Day, which started off as a sincere celebration of love (maybe not entirely… the church tried to use it to Christianise the population), has now become a commercial holiday. Billions and billions of dollars are spent every year just in the US and business is at its peak in this period. This though, doesn’t mean that people who celebrate it don’t have deep and serious motivations behind it. The shyest can make the first step and the ones who are already in love can make a bigger or steadier one.

One way or another I personally don’t mind St. Valentines. I think it’s a nice holiday to celebrate if you’re in love but one to avoid if you are not.

And to all my grumpy readers out there, let it be! There will come a time when you will (have to) celebrate it too!