Each 14 February in France is a significant observance for Saint Valentine’s Day. La Saint Valentin, or Saint Valentine’s Day, is pre-eminently a day for couples in love, but the observance also has Roman Catholic roots in many ways.
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The story behind Valentine’s Day goes back to the Roman Empire days when Emperor Claude II banned the sacrament of marriage and marriage itself amongst young people. However, a priest named Valentine began conducting weddings in secret, for which he was ultimately arrested and executed.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Pope Gelase I declared Valentine a saint. Centuries later, the date of his execution, 14 February, is celebrated by many as a tribute to the resilience and sacrifice of true love in the face of oppression.
The symbols of Valentine’s Day include Cupid, the Roman god of love, with his bow and arrow ready to strike the heart of his “victims” with lovesickness. Pink and red hearts also figure prominently. Giving of red or pink flowers, chocolates, greeting cards, and other gifts is part of the tradition. Many couples go out for romantic dinners and spend the whole day together.