Welcome to Episode 69 of Flash Past, the show that plucks something from history and drops it in the middle of a modern conversation. In this episode we talk about a priest, a man running an underground railroad for Romans and a jailor’s daughter. We also talk about flowers, chocolate and murder. Find out how it all fits together when you Flash Past!
The history of Valentine’s Day isn’t all flowers and candy. Depending on the story, St. Valentine either:
A priest who, against Emperor Claudius II’s wishes, performed marriages for young soldiers
Ran an underground railroad of sorts for Christians trying to escape Roman prisons
Sent the first Valentine to a jailor’s daughter
It’s believed, at least by some, that Valentine’s Day didn’t take on a romantic meaning until Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Parliament of Foules,” where Chaucer refers to February 14th as the day birds (and humans) come together to find a mate.
St. Valentine, like all saints, wears multiple saint hats. He’s the patron saint of beekeepers, epliepsy, fainting, traveling…and, of course, lovers (engaged couples and happy marriages).
In the 1600s, the act of exchanging Valentine cards began to pick up steam and by the 1840s, cards were being mass-produced. It was around this time that John Cadbury began making chocolates especially for the occasion and packaged them in decorative boxes, ready to give.
Like many holidays with religious overtones, Valentine’s Day was likely set in mid-February to coincide with the festival of Lupercalia. This festival celebrated Lupa, the she-wolf who cared for and succled Romulus and Remus after they were cast into the Tiber River.
In 1929, seven mob “associates” were gunned down as part of a conflict between Al Capone and the Irish gang led by Bugs Moran. This happened at a warehouse in Lincoln Park, Chicago.
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