St. Valentine’s day: History, meaning and misconceptions

 St. Valentine’s day: History, meaning and misconceptions

We all know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, tracing back to the earlier tradition in Rome where young men chose their brides even before the declaration of February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide every 14 February. People exchange flowers and gifts, spending quality time together to mark the day. It’s a period for young people to meet and build relationships, but what does the love shared on Valentine’s Day truly mean?

Shockingly, Valentine’s Day has done more harm than good to today’s youth. Many have damaged their lives in the name of celebration, leading to early marriages, school dropouts, and unintended pregnancies. This article therefore discusses both the history and misconceptions surrounding Valentine’s Day.


There are different ideas as to where and how the celebration of Valentine’s
day came about. The Catholic church recognises three different saints with the
name Valentine or valentinus, all of whom where martyred.

One Valentine was described as a priest at Rome, another, as bishop of Interamma (modern Terni),
and these two seem to have suffered a similar fate as they were martyred around the third century. However, the
third Valentine, suffered in Africa with a number of companions but nothing is
further known about him.

The first two Valentines served at Rome when Emperor Claudius II decided that
single men make better soldiers than those who are with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young and single men for them to be fit for wars and community security.

Valentine the priest realising the un-fairness and injustice of the decree defied Claudius law and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Emperor Claudius discovered St. Valentine’s action, he ordered him to be put to death.

It was also recorded that Valentine of Terni, a bishop who was a true namesake of the former, was the one. Because
he was also beheaded by same Claudius II outside Rome.

Before Valentine was killed, he was first thrown into the Romans prison, where
he cared for his fellow prisoners and fell in love with his jailors daughter. Stories also have it that the young couples that Valentine wedded in secret brought flowers and letters to him while he was still in prison.

Before he was put to death, he sent his a letter to his love -the jailors daughter – when he wrote her a letter and signed it ” from your Valentine.” Legend has it that St. Valentine cured the jailors daughter blindness before his death execution.

However, it was more than 200 years before February 14 was declared and proclaimed at St. Valentine’s day. By this time, Rome have become a Christian community and they churches leaders stamped out every form of paganism.

At the initial, a pagan fertility ritual celebration was held in February 14 every year in Rome, but the pope abolished the tradition and declared St. Valentine’s Day in place of it, because the two Valentine’s were killed on the 14 of February.


Another interesting and famous person from Valentine’s day was Cupid, which
means “The god of war” and “desire.” In the Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of love, desires and affection.

He was the son of the goddess Venus and
Mars (god of war). He was often portrayed as a naked winged youth with a bow and arrow.

Cupid is a cute little boy who is known in Greek as “EROS meaning god of love”, who normally causes people to fall in love. Cupid is often said to be a mischievous boy who goes around wounding both gods and human with his
bow and arrows, causing them to fall in love.

He was responsible for impregnating many goddesses and mortals because he too is a mortal. He is considered both handsome and threatening as he could use his power to make people fall in love. EROS could force the wrong people into love leading them to tragedy at the end. The symbol of heart love and arrow originated from Cupid.

More to read about Valentine’s day: 


People fail to understand that the love which St. Valentine portrayed is true love to young lovers and the love to allow the commands of God to take place, which is “marital union.”

Young people have caused harm to themselves in the course of celebrating St. Valentine’s Day due to unnecessary lust, not love.

Young people have dented their future, as young girls become pregnant at an immature age, and young boys become fathers when they have not reached maturity, causing mental traumas to themselves and their family members.

St. Valentine showed his love to the jailor’s daughter by healing her blindness and sending her love letters. The people St. Valentine wedded secretly showed him love by visiting him in prison and sending him gifts, flowers, and letters. The Roman Christians showed us love by abolishing the Roman pagan gods and bringing us into the period when we could express our love to our loved ones.

Let’s learn from St. Valentine by showing true love, not lust. From his life, we will understand that love has stages. Hence, we are encouraged to apply our love in a saintly manner, understanding that it is a saint’s day. By doing so, teenage sexual destruction will reduce.

Valentine’s Day should not be a time to give away virginity but an occasion to express love through gifts and letters. Saint Valentine is remembered as the patron saint of love.


By Ngene Innocent.

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