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Posted: Jun 3 2006, 11:52 PM
Member No.: 1
Joined: 15-September 04
The History And Origin Of Valentine's Day
By Tony Luck
The oldest Valentine card still in existence was sent in 1415 by Charles Duke of Orleans, at the time a prisoner in the Tower of London, to his wife. The Duke's Valentine’s card is now preserved and displayed in the British Museum.
However, the origins of Valentine’s Day lie in ancient Rome. Over the years the ever expanding Roman empire became more difficult to police and there was an increasing shortage of soldiers. Believing that married men were too attached to their families and unlikely to sign up for active service, Emperor Claudius II banned marriage, thinking this would increase the number of quality recruits.
The story goes that a Christian priest by the name of Valentine, seeing the unhappiness and trauma that resulted, secretly married couples in defiance of the new law.
It wasn’t long before Emperor Claudius found out about Valentine’s actions and the priest was imprisoned and eventually executed on February 14, 270.
Whilst in prison, Valentine was befriended by his jailer, a character called Asterius. Asterius had a blind daughter and the jailer asked Valentine to cure her, which he supposedly did. Shortly before his execution, Valentine asked for writing implements and signed a farewell message to the jailer’s daughter “From your Valentine”, a phrase that has lived on, much to the delight of modern day florists, rose growers and card companies!