Who is this Valentine fellow?

We all associate Valentine’s Day with romance, but I can’t seem to get to the truth of who St. Valentine really was or why exactly it is our custom that candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones in honor of this person. The romantic aspect of February 14 associated with Saint Valentine’s Day seems to have originated in England and France during the Middle Ages, when someone noticed that half way through the second month of the year, that birds begin to pair.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different martyred saints named Valentine, one of whom was a priest who defied Emperor Claudius II and his outlaw of marriage for soldiers when he continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. Valentine was put to death for his defiance.

Another legend suggests that Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself when, while in prison, he wrote a letter to his jailor’s daughter, with whom he had fallen in love.  He signed it ‘From your Valentine.’

The truth behind the Valentine legends is not clear, however, we have fun today in characterizing him as a sympathetic, heroic, and romantic figure. And we always look forward to Valentine’s Day as the most special of days that is devoted to lovers; we enjoy celebrating this day as a proper occasion for writing love letters, sending lovers’ gifts, and cooking for our sweethearts.