Each year the shops fill with Valentines goodies and each year we celebrate the most romantic day of the year (or avoid it like the plague if we're single). But what exactly is Valentines Day about and what is the real meaning behind it?
St Valentine is derived from both Christian and Roman tradition. There once was a few Roman martyrs called Valentines, but the St Valentine we all celebrate was a Roman priest who was killed for his faith on February 14 269AD. He had refused to worship pagan Gods and would marry many couples in secret.
The Romans held a festival on February 15th each year, called Lupercalia, a fertility celebration. But as Christianity rose and overtook a lot of Pagan holidays, Pope Gelasius turned Lupercalia into a Christian feast day to honor St Valentine in 496AD and changing it to the 14th..
Catholics and Protestants both offer a different version of the story of St Valentine, but both agree that St Valentine married soldiers in secret who opposed Claudius II's prohibition on marriage for soldiers. Claudius found out and executed him on February 14 269AD.
It is said that just before his death, Valentine asked for a pen and paper and wrote 'From Your Valentine' to a secret love of his own.
From then on February 14th became St Valentines Day, the day for lovers and it is said that Romans offered hand written messages, known as Valentines, to the women they loved.