Posted in Kafevend Blog

Valentine's Day is the first big commercial opportunity after Christmas. No card shop, florist or supermarket will have left a stone unturned in their quest to sell us heart shaped confectionery, red roses or romantic cards. Restaurant owners will be rubbing their hands in glee at the earning potential this evening will bring and the nation's baristas will have perfected their best cupids, doves, hearts and arrows to draw on top of your latte. If you'd forgotten it was Valentine's Day and felt a chill in the atmosphere as you left the house this morning, this is your cue to rush out and make amends. Never say the Kafevend blog isn't here to guide you through life's many pitfalls! We're also here to bring you 'interesting' snippets of information. Today is no exception; have you ever stopped to wonder who St. Valentine actually was?

In fact, there has been more than one saint named Valentine, unlike the uniquely named St. Drogo, whose life we looked at in November. The most likely candidate, however, is the St. Valentine who was martyred on February 14th around 270C.E. during the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Legend tells us that Claudius decided his army would be more effective if it were to contain only single men and consequently barred men under a certain age from getting married. Valentine, a priest, continued to hold secret wedding ceremonies for the young and in love in defiance of the Emperor's edict and was sentenced to death as a consequence.

Interestingly, it seems that Valentine's Day happens at the same time of year as the much earlier Roman festival, Lupercalia, which involved purification and fertility rituals. Some insist that Valentine's Day was a way for the church to assert control over this pagan festival, while others point out that the feast of St. Valentine wasn't linked to romantic love until Chaucer made the connection in one of his poems. What seems in no doubt at all is that Valentine's Day is now very much a profit-making enterprise, so you could always be contrary and compose your valentine a poem instead – far more romantic!

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