February 14 is Valentine’s Day. The name comes from three saints named Valentine. But the roots of this holiday go as far back as the Ancient Rome, where during the period between February 13th and 15th, a festival was held connected to fertility. The celebration featured a lottery in which young men would draw the names of teenage girls from a box. The girl assigned to each young man in that manner would be his companion during the remaining year.
In an attempt to get rid of the pagan rituals, Pope Gelasius made a change in the lottery and instead of the names of young women, the box contained the names of saints. The young men were not pleased.
Additionally, the church made this the Feast of St Valentine, who secretely performed marriages for young Roman soldiers and subsequently was beheaded for it.
Another story tells us that priest Valentine, while imprisoned, fell in love with his jailer’s daughter and on the day of his execution gave her a note. It read ‘From your Valentine’.
In the 1969 revision of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, the feast day of Saint Valentine on February 14 was removed from the General Roman Calendar . However, it is still celebrated in the town of Balzan in Malta.
In the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished, Valentine’s Day started to be associated with romantic love.
Modern Valentine’s Day symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards.
During the week beginning February 14th EC will organize various Valentine’s Day activities for students. They will include a romantic movie night, a ‘speed dating’ activity and a ‘traffic light’ party.