St. Valentine’s: The story behind the tradition of February 14th

Where does the tradition of St. Valentine’s comes from?

It is interesting to start saying that in 1969 there was a revision of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, from which St. Valentine was removed by Pope Paul VI. Although Valentine (Valentinus in Latin) is the name of al least three saints or priests in ancient Rome with apparently no significant contributions to this world.

The argument was “Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia (North of Rome) on February 14…”

Anyway, St. Valentine’s day was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 with no fundamentals other than stating the the name was reverenced among men, but their acts were known only to God.

Some of the romantic stories are that during Emperor Claudius II times, a priest named Valentine married couples secretly, contrary to the Emperor’s orders, since he would find more difficult that married men would join his army. They guy was sent to jail for execution and from there he sent a letter to some lady saying “From your Valentine”… I know it is a boring and not very convincing story.

But my favorite legend though is about Lupercalia. This has to do with the myth about Romulus and Remus being nursed by a she-wolf (Lupa = She Wolf in Latin) before, obviously, they founded the city of Rome in 753 B.C. So the pagan tradition is about scarifying animals in the cave where they supposedly were nursed and going around spreading the blood of the animals in the field crops and as a symbol of fertility for women.

Then the red roses come because they were supposed to be the favorites of Venus, Roman goddess of love and the Cupid is supposed to be the god of desire, affection and erotic love.

So who knows if there are fundamentals to the story that Hallmark and Disney, etc profit from, I think it’s more a kind of the Santa Claus story thing. In any case, at least from pagan traditions, which I usually consider closer to reality than mythological stories, it has to do more with feritlity than with cheesy love and affection.

But whoever thinks one thing goes with the other, will be having a nice dinner… hopefully for him or her, with a very happy ending…

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Mexican blogger living abroad and writing about experiences of traveling around México, Italy, India and Spain.


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    • Anonymous
    • February 16, 2012

    Another positivist catch on Valentine’s 🙂

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