There are many legends surrounding the origin of Valentines Day. The following story originates from the times of the Roman Emperor Claudius II.
The legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men – his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realising the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentines actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
According to the legend, Valentine actually sent the first valentine greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl – possibly his jailor’s daughter – who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine”, an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is uncertain, the stories certainly emphasise his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and most importantly, romantic figure. It is no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.
Finally, unspoken love is like keeping Valentine in prison. Offering a Valentine gift to the one you love would be like releasing him/her by defying Claudius II.