The Original Valentines: Cupid, Duke of Orleans and St. Valentine
By Megan Bell
Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for centuries. However, the origin of the holiday is not widely discussed. February 14th is a day to celebrate your love of another, as well as a day to remember those who chose to love rather than let go.
In 270 AD, Emperor Claudius II of Rome found it difficult to convince men to leave their wives and join the Army, so he cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. A priest named Valentine had a soft spot for romance and chose to defy the emperor and secretly marry couples. When his opposition was revealed, he was brutally beaten and put to death on February 14.
Legend has it, that while in prison Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter who visited him in confinement. He wrote her a farewell letter prior to his death and signed it ‘From your Valentine.’
Charles, Duke of Orleans, is given credit for the origin of the first Valentine’s card. After being captured at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, Charles wrote a poem to his wife. By the 16th century, it was custom to send cards on Valentine’s Day.
Cupid is a popular mythological symbol of Valentine’s Day. He was the son of Venus, the goddess of love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and desire. Cupid is recognized as a winged child clutching a bow and arrows. He targets gods and humans, causing them to fall passionately in love when striking them with his arrows.