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Did You Know?

The festival of love used to be celebrated on February 15th, not 14th

Valentine's Day originates from the ancient Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on 15 February in honour of the gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. During the festival, young men would draw the names of women from a box, and each couple would be paired until next year's celebration. Often they would fall in love and marry.

At around 270AD Rome was facing battles and civil uprising. The men were not keen to join the army. Emperor Claudius II believed that the men did not want to leave their loved ones and summarily cancelled all marriages and engagements. Two priests, Valentine and Marius, disobeyed the decree and secretly performed marriage ceremonies. Valentine was caught on 14 February and dragged to jail. Later in the day he was clubbed to death and beheaded. It is said that, before his execution, Valentine himself had fallen in love with the jailer's daughter. He signed his final note to her, "From your Valentine."

Valentine's Day
In 391AD, Emperor Theodosius I declared Christianity as the official religion of the Rome. The fertility festival was celebrated until 496AD when Pope Gelasius replaced it with a similar celebration. For patron saint of the celebration, he chose the "lovers" saint, St Valentine. He also moved the date of the celebration from the 15 February to the date of St Valentine's death, 14 February. Through the centuries, Valentines Day became to be remembered more as the festival of love instead of a religious day. In 1969 it was dropped from the Roman Catholic calendar as a designated feast day.

Cupid has always played a role in the celebrations of love. Those whose hearts are pierced by his arrows fall deeply in love. In Greek mythology he was known as Eros, the young son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. To the Romans, he was Cupid, son of Venus. But where there’s love, there often is jealousy. Venus was jealous of the beauty of Psyche, a mere mortal, and ordered Cupid to punish her (for being so beautiful). Instead, Cupid fell deeply in love and took her as his wife.

As a mortal Psyche was forbidden to look at him. Eventually, her sisters convinced her to look at the handsome Cupid. As punishment, Venus demanded that she perform three difficult tasks, the last of which caused Psyche's death. Cupid found her lifeless on the ground and removed the eternal sleep from her body. The gods, moved by their love, then granted Psyche immortality.

The symbol of Cupid became part of Valentines Day only recently. Cupid is still around shooting his arrows. Psyche represents the struggles of the human soul.

The Roman's celebrated a festival called Lupercalia on February 15. This festival was held to ward off the danger of wolves to their flocks and honored their God Lupercalia. This is one idea. The Christian Church had two Saints named Valentine and two other ideas center around them. The Roman Emperor, Claudius the II forbade young men to marry in 200 A.D. He believed single men made better soldiers, free of family concerns. A priest named Valentine disobeyed the Emperor and married couples in secret. The next Saint Valentine was a lover of children but, was imprisoned when he would not honor other gods. The children missed him and wrote messages of affection to him. They threw their notes through the bars of his cell. This may have been the beginning of exchanging messages. He was executed on February 14, 269 A.D. Pope Gelasius in 496 A.D. named February 14th, Valentine's Day, after him. The fourth idea concerning the celebration of Valentine's Day is based on the belief that birds or fowl pick their mates on February 14th. It was believed love birds in particular, chose this day to begin mating.

Cupid has long played a role in the celebrations of love and lovers. He is known as a mischievous, winged child, whose arrows who would pierce the hearts of his victims causing them to fall deeply in love. In ancient Greece he was known as Eros the young son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. To the Roman's he was Cupid, and his mother Venus

One legend tells the story of Cupid and the mortal maiden, Psyche. Venus was jealous of the beauty of Psyche, and ordered Cupid to punish the mortal. But instead, Cupid fell deeply in love with her. He took her as his wife, but as a mortal she was forbidden to look at him. Psyche was happy until her sisters convinced her to look at Cupid. Cupid punished her by departing. Their lovely castle and gardens vanished with him and Psyche found herself alone in an open field

As she wandered to find her love, she came upon the temple of Venus. Wishing to destroy her, the goddess of love gave Psyche a series of tasks, each harder and dangerous than the last. For her last task Psyche was given a little box and told to take it to the underworld. She was told to get some of the beauty of Proserpine, the wife of Pluto, and put it in the box. 

During her trip she was given tips on avoiding the dangers of the realm of the dead. And also warned not to open the box. Temptation would overcome Psyche and she opened the box. But instead of finding beauty, she found deadly slumber

Cupid found her lifeless on the ground. He gathered the sleep from her body and put it back in the box. Cupid forgave her, as did Venus. The gods, moved by Psyche's love for Cupid made her a goddess. 

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