The History of Valentine's Day （2）
While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial -- which probably occurred around 270 A.D -- others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival.
In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification.
Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors.
Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15,
was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as
well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a
dog, for purification.
The boys then sliced the goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips.
Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year.
Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn.
The city's bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman.
These matches often ended in marriage. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The Roman 'lottery' system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed.
Later, during the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February -- Valentine's Day -- should be a day for romance.
The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.
The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.
Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.
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