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Why do we celebrate Valentine's day?

Every year on ♥February the 14th♥, a strange tradition called “Valentine’s Day” forces all the men of the world to attempt to be romantic for once. If there weren’t enough hints already on billboards, in the newspaper and on the TV, you can bet their better halves will be pushing for a nice meal out and a box of chocolates.

But why do we have this strange celebration? Who was this “Valentine” fella and why do we eat more chocolate than we should? We’ve just gone on a diet, why ruin it now?

Who was St Valentine?

There are many stories as to how it all started and indeed, who St Valentine was. However, the most popular one is that he was a Roman priest who lived around the third century AD.

In those days, the emperors had some pretty odd ideas on how to best keep their troops in line and fit for ransacking neighbouring countries. At this time, Emperor Claudius II banned marriage because he thought his troops were better being single. I imagine he thought marriage made them softer and less angry. How things change…

Anyway, Valentine thought this was very unfair. Again, the cynical would imagine that it’s because he’s losing a lot of church revenue, but let’s stay on the romantic theme for a while longer. In order to chill the troops out, he arranged for marriages to take place in secret.

Claudius found out about it and threw our hero in jail. Not only that, he sentenced him to death. They didn’t bother with inefficient courts in those days, what the emperor said, happened.

Turns out jail doesn’t stop the power of love (cue music) and while in jail he fell for the jailer’s daughter. This guy didn’t know when to stop.

He got took to be separated from his head on February the 14th. Makes sense now doesn’t it? Not only that, legend has it that he wrote a note to his lover and signed it “From your Valentine”.

So, when you sign off your card to your wife, fiancée or the girl in accounts, you’re essentially celebrating the beheading of a Roman priest.