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St. Valentine`s Day is awash with people buying roses, flowers, chocolates, buying fancy meals and generally spoiling partners. Nothing wrong with that? after all, it`s a long time since Christmas and it only comes around once a year. Still, you may be forgiven for not knowing the specific history of St. Valentine such is the amount of commercialism that permeates western society on the run up to this loving celebration. So who was St. Valentine and why was he directly linked with ‘romantic love’ between two adult partners? A good question at this time of year and something that those that sit down for their three course meal often overlook as they are so concerned with following this now well worn ritual.
The month of February has both Christian and Roman traditions. The Catholic Church is said to recognize three, if not more, saints by the name of Valentine or Valentinus. Each one of these Valentines were martyred. One of the stories tells how Valentine served as a priest during the 3rd century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II felt that single men were better soldiers than married ones and so outlawed marriage for the youthful solider. Yet Valentine continued to marry young men who were soldiers despite this rule. This led him to be killed. Another take on the legend was that the imprisoned man by the same name (who was in love) sent a card to his young lady as a sign of his affection to her.
No matter what the legend is it`s important to show love to one another. With Christmas being a time to care and think about those nearest and dearest to us and Valentine’s only around the corner perhaps we should extend this want for well wishing and allow the whole year be a time to care for all and in so doing, develop a more empathetic and loving society at large.