Valentine's History

Okay, I checked the SD mainpage. I searched SDMB history. I can’t find anything on the history of Valentine’s day. I don’t think this is because there isn’t anything, I think it’s because my computer hates me and has decided not to co-operate with me, so that it can focus on an evil plot to take over the world…but I digress…
What’s the history of Valentine’s Day? Was there really a “St.” Valentine?

There were several Saints Valentine.

CAtholic Encyclopedia - St. Valentine

Note that while That source links Valentine traditions to common beliefs regarding birds pairing in February (and the Medieval imagery that used birds in numerous allegories and images of romatic love.) (Note that the CE entry was obviously written befor Hallmark restored the event to life.)

The Encyclopædi Britannica also asserts that St. Valentine (either of the two 3d century martyrs) has no connection to the exchange of lovers’ gifts which, it says, began in the 14th century.

The current popular tradition claims that the bishop Valentine was known for being helpful in bringing together young lovers or helping them correspond. I’m not sure where that tradition originated.

I do note that the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia (Lupercus, god of agriculture) on February 15 and that some of the rites surrounding that feast were associated with increasing fertility among young women.
The internet is filled with references to young Romans practicing good luck rituals on the eve of Lupercalia in the hopes of finding the proper mate. The eve, of course, would be what we now call St. Valentine’s day. I am not sure whether there was truly an 1100 year gap in rituals for young lovers that were simply coincidentally focussed on the same date (which the versions in both encyclopedias would require), or whether the encyclopedias both missed a tradition that held on for quite a while, or whether the widely distributed internet version regarding Lupercalia Eve was simply an invention of someone trying to tie the events together that has passed into the lore that “everyone knows” (incorrectly), similar to the purported pagan origins of Hallowe’en.

Thanks Tom, that’s interesting. As far as Bishop Valentine, I heard (from blatantly unreliable sources) that he married people in secret, in order to prevent them from being deflowered by the “kings night” (where the king would supposedly get first crack). I remember reading (I think snopes or SD) that the kings night was mainly a myth, with some historical accuracies (only it wasn’t necessarily the king who’d get first crack).

Snopes on ius primae noctus or droit du seigneur (No mention of Valentine, which seems understandable considering the suspect nature of the ritual.)

Cecil’s take on the matter.

The web has some links just input your question at:
http://www.google.com

e.g.
History of Valentine’s Day

You’ll be reading for hours :slight_smile: