Marriage Banned! By Jody Bailey Day
It’s true. Emperor Claudius the Second actually banned marriage in the third century, A.D. He thought married men made bad soldiers. The nerve!
A Roman priest, named Valentine, must have been a true romantic, or a stickler for Biblical laws. Either way, he didn’t think it was fair, and began arranging marriages in secret.
Claudius found out about it and threw the priest in jail, sentenced to death. The legend goes that Claudius fell in love with the jailor’s daughter. This doomed prison romance is the stuff of a tragic Hollywood movie.
On February 14 poor Valentine sent his love a letter as he was being led to the gallows, signed simply, “Your Valentine.” Where’s the tissue?
The regular holiday didn’t come about until the year 496. A Roman festival took place in the middle of February called Lupercalia. Boys drew names of girls from a box, and they would pair off during the festival, and sometimes they got married. Valentine would have loved it.
In later years the church wanted to make Lupercalia into a Christian celebration and combine it with a remembrance of the sainted Valentine. St. Valentine’s name became used to express affection. Happy Valentine’s Day!