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The history of Valentine’s Day

San Valentino, la festa degli innamorati, è sempre una delle feste più celebrate e apprezzate. Ma pochi sanno quanto la storia di questa celebrazione affondi le proprie radici indietro nel tempo…


Every February we celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving flowers, candy and cards to those we love. We do this in honour of Saint Valentine. You may be wondering, “Who is St. Valentine”? Time to brush up on your Valentine’s history!

Legend has it that Valentine was a priest who served during third century Rome. There was an Emperor at that time by the name of Claudius II. Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those that were married. With this thought in mind he outlawed marriage for young men in hopes of building a stronger military base. Supposedly, Valentine, decided this decree just wasn’t fair and chose to marry young couples secretly. When Emperor Claudius II found out about Valentine’s actions he had him put to death.

Another legend has it that Valentine was an imprisoned man who fell in love with his jailer‘s daughter. Before he was put to death he sent the first ‘valentine’ himself when he wrote her a letter and signed it ‘Your Valentine’, words still used on cards today.

Perhaps we’ll never know the true identity and story behind the man named St. Valentine, but this much is for sure…February has been the month to celebrate love for a long time, dating clear back to the Middle Ages. In fact, Valentines ranks second only to Christmas in number of greeting cards sent.

Another valentine gentleman you may be wondering about is Cupid (Latin cupido, “desire”). In Roman mythology Cupid is the son of Venus, goddess of love. His counterpart in Greek mythology is Eros, god of love. Cupid is often said to be a mischievous boy who goes around wounding both gods and humans with his arrows, causing them to fall in love.

candy dolci
in honour of … in onore di…
to brush up sth ripassare, rispolverare
to serve servire
Emperor imperatore
single single, non fidanzato
with this thought in mind con questo pensiero in testa
to outlaw proibire, vietare
in hopes of … nella speranza di …
supposedly presumibilmente
decree decreto
to put sb to death mettere a morte qualcuno
imprisoned imprigionato
jailer carceriere
identity identità
to celebrate sth festeggiare qualcosa
the Middle Ages il medioevo
to rank second si posiziona al secondo posto
mythology mitologia
goddess divinità
counterpart corrispondente
mischievous birichino, monello
to wound ferire
human essere umano
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