Valentine’s Day is the celebration of Love and French people, as millions of people around the world, will be offering chocolates and other gifts to show their love for each other.

The Church of Rome, the Anglicans and Lutherans celebrate Saint Valentin or Valentine’s Day on February 14, but the origins of this beautiful tradition go back to Pagan times.

Antique Valentine 1909 01
Valentine's day greeting card (Wikimedia Commons)
Valentinus was an early Christian martyr from Rome who was jailed around 270AD not only for helping other Christians escape persecution but for carrying out clandestine weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry, as Emperor Claudius believed that married men could not make good soldiers!

Any Christian sacrament was anyway outlawed by the Roman Empire.

The legend has it that Valentinus started the tradition of the Heart symbol by giving away to the newly married a piece of parchment cut out in the shape of a heart and inscribed with the registration of their vows.

According to the legend he also started the tradition of sending a greeting card to the loved one.

He is said to have healed the blind daughter of his jailer, and the miracle he performed resulted in the conversion to Christianity of the jailer and his extensive family.

Before his execution on February 14, Valentinus, who had fallen in love with the young girl (who by then had recovered her sight and could read) sent her a farewell note signed “from your Valentine.”

Another symbol of Valentine’s Day (which has nothing to do with Valentinus though but is most likely related to ancient Pagan rituals) is Cupid, the little winged God of Desire, Affection and Love who is also known in Latin as Amor and in Greek as Eros.

I don’t know what Valentinus would have thought if he had known that one day he would be linked to Cupid-Eros…

Source photo Wikimedia Commons


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About the author

I am French Parisienne and lived in Asia for nearly 20 years before settling in the UK 3 years ago. I have an interest in everything and every culture and am an avid reader. French linguistics is my "specialty" but I have a passion for history and try to mingle them. Humour is very important to me, I love writing, talking, laughing, exchanging ideas, learning more from others... the world is full of fascinating people! I never leave my home without my camera, there is always something unusual, beautiful or strange to capture. I like to pay attention to details, to the world of the "small", a parallel world if you take the time to look for it...And above all, I love my country of birth, France.