Valentine’s Day, a tradition often seen as a very commercial holiday, existing for the purpose of selling cars, flowers, candy or jewellery. But if we take a look back in the history, you see that the origin of this day is completely different!
The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
There are multiple legends of Saint Valentine, and different reliquaries in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Scotland, England and France all claim to have bones attributed to a Saint Valentine.
While Catholics believe that Feb. 14 commemorates the martyrdom of Saint Valentine, who was a Roman priest beheaded in the third century, no one can agree on exactly what he did or why he was executed. Some legends say Valentine was a bishop in Terni, Italy, who healed the sick, including the blind daughter of a prison guard whom he met while in jail for practicing Christianity in a pagan world. Some say he was sentenced to death because he tried to convert Emperor Claudius to Christianity. Others say the sentence came because he was caught secretly performing weddings, defying a ban on marriage that had been imposed by the Emperor as a solution to a military recruitment crunch.
Celebrating in The Netherlands
When it comes to Valentine’s gifts, the traditional ways to show off your sentimental side are with chocolates and flowers.
Celebrating in Poland
Poles were quick to adopt Western-style celebrations of Valentine’s Day and nowadays it’s as popular in Poland as anywhere else.
Greeting cards and heart-themed gifts abound at gift shops, and hotels, resorts and restaurants offer special packages for romantic getaways.
Many Poles make a romantic pilgrimage of sorts to Chełmno, a small town about 30 miles northwest of Lódz along the Ner River, a tributary of the Warta River in today’s west-central Poland.
It is here that the relics of Saint Valentine, the patron saint of lovers, have been preserved for several hundred years in the local parish church.
Celebrating in Hungary
Hungary is not shadowed much by the media promotions of American style Valentine’s day. Thus, the Valentine’s Day is not much commercialized there until this day. On Valentine’s Day lovers exchange gifts to express their love as it is in any other country, but mainly by the younger generation.
How will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day?!