The holiday of Valentine's Day probably derives
its origins from the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalia.
In the early days of Rome, fierce wolves roamed the woods
nearby. The Romans called upon one of
their gods, Lupercus, to keep the wolves away. A festival
held in honor of Lupercus was celebrated
February 15th. The festival was celebrated as a spring festival.
Their calendar was different at that time,
with February falling in early springtime.
One of the customs of the young people was
name-drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the
names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed
into jars. Each young man drew a slip.
The girl whose name was chosen was to be his sweetheart for
Legend has it that the holiday became Valentine's
Day after a priest named Valentine. Valentine was a priest
in Rome at the time Christianity was a new religion. The Emperor
at that time, Claudius II, ordered the Roman
soldiers NOT to marry or become engaged. Claudius believed
that as married men, his soldiers would want
to stay home with their families rather than fight his wars.
Valentine defied the Emperor's decree and secretly
married the young couples. He was eventually arrested, imprisoned,
and put to death
Valentine was beheaded on February 14th, the
eve of the Roman holiday Lupercalia. After his death, Valentine
was named a saint. As Rome became more Christian, the priests
moved the spring holiday from the
15th of February to the 14th - Valentine's Day. Now the holiday
honored Saint Valentine instead of Lupercus