Valentine's Day: How did it originate?

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By Gene Linzey

The Catholic Church originally recognized 10 or 11 Valentines (some of them Bishops), although several of them could have been the same person.Eight hundred years before the establishment of Valentine’s Day, the Romans had practiced a pagan celebration in mid-February commemorating young men’s growth to maturity. The celebration required men to draw the names of young girls from a box. The girl whose name was drawn was then assigned to the young man as his companion during that year.Attempting to do away with paganism and immorality, Pope Gelasius ordered a change. Instead of the names of women in the box, he had the names of saints inserted. Now, both men and women were required to draw names, and the idea was to study about the saint and to emulate his or her life for the rest of the year. Needless to say, these changes were not well appreciated.Also, 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 on Feb. 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

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