On 14 February lovers celebrate Valentine's Day. People in love give each other cards and presents: flowers-especially roses- chocolates or jewellery. In the evening there are special parties, and couples sometimes go to restaurants for a romantic dinner. In New York City on the top of the Empire State Building there are red lights on Valentine's Day.
The ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia was on 15 February. On this day young men took the names of young women out of a vase. The couples formed in this way, stayed together until the next Lupercalia. As usual, the Christian Church wanted to replace pagan festivals with Christian festivals. So, at the end of the fifth century Pope Gelasius created St Valentine's Day on 14 February.
Nobody knows exactly who Valentine was. There are three possibilities:
- Some people think he was a Christian priest when Claudius II was the Roman emperor. When he needed a lot of soldiers for his army, Claudius did not permit marriages, but Valentine performed marriages secretly.The authorities discovered this, and executed him in AD 270.
- There were another two Valentines in the third century: the Romans executed them because they were Christians.
- A legend says that one of them fell in love with the daughter of the prison keeper. before his execution he wrote a letter to her: he signed it "from your Valentine".