Embrace the Spirit of Valentine's Day Without Breaking The Bank
During the coming week, approximately 200 million red roses will be bought at holiday-inflated prices to represent a symbolic gift of love on Valentine's Day. Before you join the crowds and spend hundreds of dollars on flowers, chocolates and fancy dinners, read below to discover the real meaning behind the holiday.
About 2400 years ago the Romans had a 3-day fertility rite (February 13-15th) honoring Lupercus who was the god of shepherds. On the Ides of February — the 15th — a lottery was held where the names of teenage women were put in a box , then each young man would select a name and that girl would be his "companion" for the next year.
During the third century A.D. Roman Emperor Claudius II was in need of many soldiers, and felt marriage kept men from leaving their homes and families to fight. In response, he issued an edict forbidding marriage. Valentine, then a Catholic Bishop, defied this new law by secretly marrying young lovers. Unfortunately, Emperor Claudius discovered Bishop Valentine's clandestine marital services and tried to convert the bishop to the Roman pagan beliefs. Valentine refused and on February 24th, 270, he was beaten and beheaded.
It has been written that while Valentine was in prison awaiting his fate, he fell in love with the jailer's blind daughter and restored her sight. Just before his death, historians say he wrote her a farewell note and signed it "From Your Valentine."
Two hundred years later the Pope wanted to promote Christianity and do away with the Lupercalia, so he decided to make Valentine the patron saint who would replace Lupercus and oversee the new celebration. Pope Gelasius still permitted a lottery, but under the new festival rules both men and women picked a saint's name out of a box and had to emulate that saint's life for the remainder of the year.Continued on the next page