Happy Valentine’s Day!

In 278 AD, Saint Valentine, a holy priest in the Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed. It’s a tragic beginning to one of the most romantic holidays of the year. Valentine’s Day has a unique and somewhat checkered past before it would become the beloved holiday that is so well known today. In case the decorations didn’t tip you off, today, Wednesday February 14, 2018, is Valentine’s Day!

So why was Saint Valentine executed and what does he have to do with Valentine’s Day? In the years of Roman Emperor Claudius, known as Claudius the Cruel, many unpopular and bloody campaigns were waged. This made getting soldiers to join the military leagues somewhat difficult. The emperor believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families. To get rid of this problem, Claudius banned all marriage and engagements in Rome.

Saint Valentine, seeing the cruelty in this judgement, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages in secret. Valentine’s actions were discovered by the emperor, and his sentence of execution was carried out on February 14 in or about the year 270 AD. Legend has it that Valentine left a note for his jailers daughter and signed it “from your Valentine.” This is a speculated origin of Valentine’s Day cards.

Eventually, all the raucous Roman/Pagan festivals would be put to an end and Valentines’ actions would be remembered. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius would declare that on February 14th the actions of Valentine would be celebrated as Saint Valentine’s Day.

The holiday did not take off all at once. After years of niche celebration, Valentine’s Day gained traction during the Middle Ages, with the oldest known Valentine was given in 1415 by Charles Duke of Orleans to his wife. The tradition of giving cards gained popularity in England a century later, and it then became common practice for the holiday annually.

Valentine’s Day is most widely celebrated in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. For many, the day is a perfect occasion to send cards, give flowers and chocolate, and more than 6 million couples use the occasion for the ultimate romantic gesture: getting engaged.

Valentine’s Day is also a day for candy and sweet treats. The holiday features candy sales by retailers that almost rival Halloween. Jelly beans, a staple of the holiday, are traditionally marketed and sold because they almost resemble miniature eggs.

For many, the holiday might seem too traditional, as it centers on romantic couples. The holiday has been jokingly called by single people as “Singles Awareness Day.” However, some are taking the holiday as a chance for empowerment. Valentine’s Day is, in recent years, being used by some young men and women as an opportunity to celebrate platonic friendships and relationships. “Galantines Day” isn’t just something from an episode of Parks and Recreation, but rather a real pop culture movement that is increasing in popularity each year. Such twists help shape this once purely romantic holiday and give it new manifestations. Regardless of how you celebrate your holiday, Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at the Gatlinburg Daily Post!

Source: Elizabeth Lane, Gatlinburg Daily Post Staff Writer