**For eight hundred years prior to the founding of Valentine's Day, the Romans practiced a somewhat pagan frolic in mid-February celebrating the young men's rite of passage to the 'God Lupercus'. This celebration featured a lottery in which young men would draw the names of certain teenage girls from a box. The girl would be assigned to each young man as his sexual companion during the remaining year.
Eventually this changed slightly, instead of the names of young women, the box would contain the names of saints. Both women and men were allowed to draw from the box, and the game was to resemble the ways of the saint they drew during the rest of the year. For obvious reasons, many of the men were not too happy with the stated changes.
Another change that evolved at that time was the replacement of the 'God Lupercus' with another that the Church deemed as a suitable patron saint of love. They found an appropriate choice in 'Valentine', who, in AD 270 was beheaded by Emperor Claudius. Claudius who then decided that married men made weak soldiers, banned marriage from his empire. But Valentine secretly would marry young men that came to him. When Claudius found out about Valentine, he first tried to convert him to paganism. Hence, Valentine reversed the strategy, trying instead to convert Claudius. When he failed, he was stoned and beheaded.
During the days of Valentine's imprisonment, he fell in love with the blind daughter of his jailer. According to legend, his love for her, and his great faith, miraculously healed her from her blindness just before his death. Before he was put to death, he signed a final message to her, 'From your Valentine.' A phrase that has been used on this day ever since.
Even though the lottery for women had been banned by the church, the mid-February holiday in commemoration of St. Valentine was still used by Roman men to seek the affection of women. It became a tradition for the men to give the ones they admired a hand-written message of affection, which would contain 'Valentine's' name.
The first Valentine card was stated to have been sent in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his beloved. He too, was being held prisoner in the 'Tower of London' at the time.
The symbol of 'Cupid' which has become a very familiar symbol of Valentine's Day, became associated with it because he was the son of Venus, the Roman God of love and beauty.**
Please, do not get me wrong here... I am not belittling the romantic note behind Valentine's Day, what I am doing is trying to allow it to be for everyone and anyone that just wants to send a message whether it be friendly or affectionate to another. When I was a child, I gave out 100's of Valentine's Day cards. I also made sure that I did not miss anyone as I did not want anyone to feel that they were not in some way deserving of a special message. So why as we get older, does Valentine's Day have to be segregated to just one person? You will notice that I have bold-faced a certain few words in the little story above. A hand-written message of affection.... that is one of the most important thoughts that should be behind Valentine's Day. It is not just about sending a true love or an intimate partner a gift... it is about sending someone that you cherish as a friend or even a trusted neighbor a little something.
Valentine's Day is about you and I have never seen it written anywhere that sending flowers or a card cannot be to yourself or to a friend~