Every February 14, people across the world exchange candy, flowers and gifts with their loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. It is considered to the best day to express your love and care for your special one or even express your feelings to the one you love. But do they really know the history behind this day? Here is how it started:
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by that name. One was a priest in Rome, another a bishop in Terni, and the third, St. Valentine which almost nothing is known about, except that he met his end in Africa. Astonishingly, all the three Valentines were said to have been martyred on February 14.
Valentine who was a priest, served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine felt this was unfair so he celebrated marriages in secret. When the emperor found out he was thrown in jail and sentenced to death.
It wasn't until more than 200 years later that 14 February was proclaimed St Valentine's Day. By this time Rome had become Christian and the Catholic Church was determined to stamp out any remaining paganism. A pagan fertility ritual was held in February each year and the Pope abolished this festival and proclaimed 14 February Saint Valentine's Day, thus establishing this feast day on the Catholic Calendar of Saints.