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The Meaning of Valentine’s Day

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It’s the time of year when couples get together to celebrate their love and each other, or when unrequited love gets an opportunity to show its true colours. The tradition is celebrated today with dinner dates, romantic getaways and gift-giving, but Valentine’s Day didn’t always carry the same meaning with free slots real money. The tradition dates back to the earliest times of Christianity and has come a long way to becoming the holiday that we know today.

Origins in the Heart of Christianity

From the earliest recorded histories of Christianity, there have been many martyrs to the religion named Valentine. It seems that there are several accounts that have coalesced together to form the legend of St. Valentine, all of which seem to focus upon a Roman priest who was martyred around 270 AD. The figure that gave rise to the February 14th date of the celebration is known to be the Saint Valentine who was interred on the Via Flaminia in Rome on that date. It’s difficult to establish the particulars beyond this, due to the destruction of records that was commonplace during the tumultuous early days of the religion when it was still prescribed by the Roman authorities. Perhaps the most interesting iterations of the legend tell the story of Saint Valentine being persecuted by the authorities for his Christianity. His resolve in not recanting his beliefs attracted the attention of Emperor Claudius II, who engaged in a debate with Valentine to try to convince him to renounce his faith. Valentine not only turned him down but then went on to try to convince the emperor to adopt Christianity himself. This failed, and Valentine was scheduled to be executed. However, prior to his execution is carried out, he was said to have performed a miracle where he returned sight to Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer, Asterius. On the eve of his execution, he was said to have left a goodbye note to Julia, signing off with the words “Your Valentine”.

The Evolution of Valentine’s Day

The conception of Valentine’s Day as a celebration of romantic love is a comparatively recent tradition. It’s recognised as a feast day in both the Anglican and Lutheran churches of Christianity and was the same amongst Catholics until the revision of the Calendar of Saints in 1969. The day is also intermingled with what could be pagan harvest and fertility festivals coinciding with the onset of spring. What first burdened the feast day with romantic connotations were the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer, one of the earliest recorded contributors to Western literary canon who was writing in the 14th Century. His poem Parlement of Foules, dated to 1382, refers to the mating of birds, even though the season wouldn’t have been right for bird mating. The romantic associations with the day are hard to trace beyond there, although they are erroneously attributed to the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia. What we do know is that the day was viewed romantically by the time of Shakespeare’s era, where the master playwright mentions it in Hamlet. A further courtly verse from the period and before continue to frame Valentine’s Day as an occasion for the declaration of romantic intentions. In Britain, the postal service was developed enough by the 1800s that people were sending Valentine’s missives to each other in droves, by which time it was a thoroughly established practice that soon spread to North America and beyond.

The Modern Meaning of Valentine’s Day

Today, Valentine’s Day has, much like Christmas, become indelibly co-opted by advertisers and the consumer culture. However, like Christmas, it doesn’t mean it’s not still a significant opportunity to celebrate important people in your life and take some time out to appreciate what really matters. With the hectic pace of modern life, it can be important for long-term couples to get together and simply enjoy each other’s company without having to worry about the outside world. Similarly, in an age where everyone’s lives are on display for social media, it’s nice to take some time out for a private affirmation of love between two people who care about each other deeply. Maybe you’ve been in a relationship for some time and things are feeling stale or formulaic. In this case, use the day to surprise each other and remember why you fell in love in the first place. For the singletons out there, not to worry. Valentine’s Day is the best time you’ll get to make your feelings known to someone you’ve had your eye on recently. Whether it’s the cute regular you swap smiles with at the coffee shop or a co-worker you’ve been carrying a torch for, let the love in the air put a spring in your step and take the plunge to tell the apple of your eye how you feel. Remember, Valentine’s day is a day for love.

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