Long ago, in Ancient Rome, our traditions of Valentine’s Day began with the celebration of the Goddess of women and marriage, Juno. Each year, on the 14th of February, the names of unwed Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Roman boys, who had virtually no contact with girls during their daily lives, would draw a name and spend the day with whomever he chose from the jar. Lucky pairings would often last up to a year and even lead to marriage.
Under the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II, however, marriage was forbidden for eligible Roman boys. The Emperor had decided that too many boys were marrying rather than enlisting for the army, depleting the military of ancient Rome. According to legend, St. Valentine continued to hold secret weddings for lovers, refusing to comply with the Emperor’s order. In a final resistance, St. Valentine was martyred by the Emperor on February 14th, forever establishing the day as the day for lovers.
Today, we continue to celebrate the holiday on the same day, offering some warmth in the frigid month of February.