The other day, I lent my ears to bypasser’s conversation, one lady lamenting to her buddy, how she will babysit a stone on Sunday February 14th, on the ‘Love day, Valentine’s Day.
Celebrated in Uganda and globally with loved ones exchanging flowers, cards, candy and gifts, expressing their affection to spread the message to the spinsters and bachelors to find a perfect match with the Uganda’s common of ‘Okulumya Abayaye”, the trend has had some ladies being betrothed to.
But what are the mysteries of this romantic soothing day, The Valentines Day, about and how did the tradition transit to the modern society dating back from 5th century when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day.
Though there are various theories surrounding ‘The Day of Romance’, the day contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.
Valentine day is said to have originated from Roman Lupercalia, Fertility festival celebrated at the ides of February or February 15th, which was dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
Some people believe that Christian Valentine’s Day was placed in the middle of February to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia while commemorating the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial dated for around A.D. 270.
In the festival, Luperci members would gather at a sacred cave, Romulus and Remus were believed to have been cared for a she wolf, lupa.
The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide.
Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
Lupercalia was outlawed by Christianity as it was deemed “un-Christian” at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day, hence the argument, Valentine’s Day a pagan festival.
Valentine’s Day is claimed to have been named after a catholic Priest who was put to death by Emperor Claudius when he defied his directive and continued to perform marriages for young lovers secretly outlawing Emperors suggestion that single men make better soldiers than married soldiers.
Other accounts hold that it was St. Valentine of Terni, a bishop, for whom the holiday was named, though there is possibility of the two saints being one. He, too, was beheaded by Claudius II outside Rome.
You are My Valentine
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons from torture. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl possibly his jailor’s daughter who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and most importantly romantic figure.
By the Middle Ages, Valentine had become one of the most popular saints in England and France, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.
Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.
Formal messages, or valentines, appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used. The first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman god of love, along with hearts, traditionally the seat of emotion.
Valentine’s day has evolved up to this day, as the Day of Romance.