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When the calendar turns to February, we start to think of love. February has for centuries been designated the month for lovers, with the primary celebration being on February 14, St. Valentines Day.
In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honor Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia.
On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.
Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II, Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns.Claudius the Cruel was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues.He believed it was because men did not want to leave their loves or their wives and families.So,In 270 A.D. he issued an edict forbidding marriage.
Valentine, bishop of Interamna, disagreed with the emperor and invited young lovers to come to him in secret to be married. When Claudius found that he was performing secret marriage ceremonies, he was incensed. Valentine seized and brought before him. When Valentine refused to change his views and renounce Christianity, he was put in prison to await execution.
Many young people came to the jail to visit him. They threw flowers and notes up to his window. They wanted him to know that they, too, believed in love.One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit him in the cell. Sometimes they would sit and talk for hours. She helped him to keep his spirits up. She agreed that he did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and going ahead with the secret marriages. On the day he was to die,he left his friend a little note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. It was signed "Love from your Valentine."
It is believed that note started the custom of exchanging love messages on Valentine's Day. It was written on the day he died, February 14, 269 A.D. Now, every year on this day, people remember. But most importantly, they think about love and friendship. And when they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh -- because they know that love can't be beaten!
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