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The story behind Valentine’s Day

Bill FoxBy Bill Fox/Columnist

Do you know who Saint Valentine was and how he become associated with this ancient rite?

I’ve been celebrating with my wife for 43 years of marriage, one year of dating, and one year of engagement without a real clue as to who this fellow was.

Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

My favourite legend contends that Valentine was a priest from the third century in Rome. When the Emperor, Claudius II, decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Feb. 15 became known as a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman God of Agriculture.

Later, during the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and in England that Feb. 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February — Valentine’s Day — should be a day for romance.

In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes.

Now, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion Valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) I find it difficult to believe that women purchase approximately 85 per cent of all cards. Sorry ladies, but does this mean that 15 per cent of the guys just weren’t interested?

I found some love quotes that I thought I would use to describe my love for my wife:

“Loving is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction”- Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

“Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.” – Albert Einstein

“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day.  When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.” – Author Unknown

“For you see, each day I love you more, today, more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.”- Rosemonde Gerard

Lastly from that wonderful romantic novel writer Stephen King, “The most important things are the hardest to say, because words diminish them”.

So I wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day and if you don’t have anyone special in your life, send a card or note to someone you think highly of.  It may make their day and will make you feel better too.

As always, you can reach me at bdfox@rogers.com.