Let me introduce myself. My name is Valentine. I lived in Rome during the third century. That was long, long ago! At that time, Rome was ruled by an emperor named Claudius. I didn't like Emperor Claudius at all, and I wasn't the only one! A lot of people shared my feelings.
Claudius wanted to have big armed forces. He expected men to volunteer to join. Many men just did not want to fight in wars. They did not want to leave their wives and families. As you might have guessed, not many men signed up. This made Claudius angry or better… furious! So what happened? He had an unwise and crazy idea. He thought that if men were not married, they would not mind joining the army. So Claudius decided not to allow any more marriages. Young people thought his new law was nasty and cruel. I thought it was ridiculous! I certainly wasn't going to support that decree!
By the way, did I mention that I was a priest? One of my favourite activities was to marry couples. Even after Emperor Claudius passed his law, I kept on performing marriage ceremonies (secretly, of course). It was really quite stimulating and exciting! Imagine a small candlelit room with only the bride and groom and myself... We would whisper the words of the ceremony, listening all the while for the steps of soldiers.
One night, we did indeed hear footsteps. It was creepy! Thank God the couple I was marrying runaway in time. I was caught. (Not quite as light on my feet as I used to be, I guess.) I was thrown in jail and told that my punishment and sentence was death.
I really tried to stay positive and cheerful… but do you know what? Wonderful things happened. Many young people came to the jail to visit me. They threw flowers and notes up to my window. They wanted me to know that they, too, believed in love and friendship.
One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit me in the cell. Sometimes we would sit and talk for hours. She helped me to keep my spirits and emotional state up. She agreed that I did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and going ahead with the secret marriages. On the day I was to die, I left my friend a little note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. I signed it, "Love from your Valentine."
I believe that note started the custom of exchanging love messages on Valentine's Day. It was written on the day I died, February 14, 269 A.D. Now, every year on this day, people remember me. But most importantly, they think about love and friendship. And when they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh, because they know that love can't be beaten!Celebrate it!
Don’t let it end!