Valentine’s Day: the romance in defiance of Rome

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Valentine’s Day: the romance in defiance of Rome

A young legionnaire steps out of his abode on a cool autumn morning. The campaign against the barbarians has been suspended as winter is about to settle in. Having returned to Rome’s cobbled stone streets, he at last is reunited with his sweetheart.

Leaving his armour and sword behind, he wears a simple off-white toga, and walks through the Eastern Gate to a clearing.

There she is, with strawberry blonde hair, smiling at him, her eyes swelling with love. Another man is there too. He raises his hand in greeting at the soldier, who returns it.

No one else is near. It is secret. It has to be. The young man is not allowed to be here. He has been fighting in Rome’s army for but four years. Another sixteen until his service is complete.

No legionnaire is allowed to marry, by law.

But his heart longs for union with his beautiful bride-to-be. They are meant to be. Even if it means defiance in the face of the Empire’s degree.

The man who stands before him tells them to exchange vows of love and allegiance. Then he officially, as a priest of the new religion sweeping the Roman empire, declares them to be married for the eyes of their god.

The officiator of the wedding? He would come to be known as Saint Valentine, and his secret service in uniting doting lovers would eventually see him martyred.

Valentine’s Day: a celebration of romance.
Prior to the 14th century, Valentine’s Day was solely focused on the sacrifice that Saint Valentine made in the name of his faith.

But in the late middle ages, just prior to the renaissance, the nature of these secret unions inspired devotion from the nobles and knights embroiled in the royal court politics. It was the age of Romance, and the day became about romantic love.

Prior to the 20th Century, most Valentine’s Day cards were hand-crafted. But an industry was born – probably for convenience’s sake – that created a boom in the celebration of love.

As human beings, we have our romantic rituals as part of starting a family unit, which fits into greater society as the basis for forwarding humanity. It all starts with the holding of hands.

And now, the day is a special celebration of the intimate connection between a couple.

Yes, every relationship comes with its set of challenges. But when you think about it, those soldiers who defied their own emperor in the name of love set an example… for how love triumphs against all odds when a couple consider their love worth fighting for.

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