Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine.
The day has become a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in Uganda and the world. The day is celebrated mainly in two colors, that is to say red and black.
There are numerous stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14, including the imprisonment of Saint Valentine of Rome for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire in the third century.
According to an early tradition, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer. Numerous later additions to the legend have better related it to the theme of love: an 18th-century embellishment to the legend claims he wrote the jailer’s daughter a letter signed ‘Your Valentine’ as a farewell before his execution; another tradition posits that Saint Valentine performed weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry.
There is a tradition that the Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honour of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269.
The day became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished, apparently by association with the ‘lovebirds’ of early spring.
The day has grown into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, sending greeting cards and gifts.
Valentine’s Day symbols include: heart-shaped outline, doves and sundry. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. In Italy, Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers ‘as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart’, as well as to children to ward off epilepsy.
Saint Valentine’s Day is not a public holiday in any country, although it is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion.