Around the world every February 14 chocolates, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and where did these traditions come from?
The legend of St. Valentine
The history of Valentine’s Day and the story of its patron saint is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of “romance” and that St. Valentine’s Day as we know it contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
The Catholic Church recognises at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.
One 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. Valentine, realising the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured.
According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl – possibly his jailer’s daughter – who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, he allegedly wrote her a letter signed: “From your Valentine,” an expression we’re all familiar with today.
Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and romantic figure.
By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France before his popularity spread world-wide.
Top restaurants for a night of romance
Modern-day, romantic and heroic figures looking to woo and seduce your special someone, should consider fine dining at one of these top restaurants.
Casa Ristorante: Italians know a thing or two about the art of seduction. That’s why the team at Casa will woo lovers and would-be lovers with special cocktails and oysters upon arrival.
Everyone knows that the way to your lover’s heart is through their stomach, so the four-course Italian feast is a guaranteed lovefest.
Pizza, Pasta, Parmigiana… yes, it’s time for amore!
Bungalow 8: Treat yourself and your special someone to a harbourside seafood feast for $120 per couple.
Enjoy everything from oysters to scallops, prawns, calamari and soft-shell crab… just leave room for dessert.
Steersons Steakhouse: Just because it’s Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you can’t have steak.
Get your heart racing at this stylish establishment and enjoy a romantic three-course steak dinner by the harbour for $99 per person.
Have a peek at their cellar and extensive Australian wine list. You’ll be impressed.
Manjit’s Wharf: Discover how Manjit’s Wharf puts the “ooh” in “la la” as you begin a sensuous journey through Indian heat and spices.
Start the night in style, sipping on your glass of complimentary Moët in romantic surrounds. Dinner is $69 per person from their award-winning menu.
Kobe Jones: If you’re looking for a location with a view, an exciting menu and an assortment of cocktails to impress your special someone, look no further.
Every couple who orders the special Valentine’s Day set menu at Kobe Jones will receive a long-stemmed rose, a box of ganache chocolates and a complimentary glass of Moët NV upon arrival.
Enjoy dinner at your chosen location and if you’re looking for an ice-breaker, why not share the legend of Saint Valentine?
**Image: The RnB Diary