There are several views on the history of Valentine's Day. One is the story of Valentine, a physician also said to be a gastronomist, who made his medicines more palatable by mixing them with herbs, spices, honey, and wine. The doctor was converted to a Christian priest and began treating the blind daughter of one of Emperor Claudius II's prison guards in an attempt to restore her sight. Valentine was incarcerated for his religious beliefs, and after his refusal to renounce Christianity, was executed by Claudius II on February 14 in the third century. Legend has it that he had fallen in love with his patient and sent a note to the girl, signed "from your Valentine," before his execution. Supposedly the girl's vision was posthumously-restored by his treatment and faith at the very time she was reading his last words. Valentine was canonized by Pope Gelasius in 496, and his feast day was celebrated until its removal in 1969 from liturgical calendars.
Other historians believe the holiday derives from the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on February 15. This was a fertility celebration of the Roman god Faunus, the god of flocks and fertility, to ensure fertility and easy births by the women of the community. One custom was for young maidens to write love letters, which would be drawn by unmarried men who subsequently courted the ladies.
Another icon associated with Valentine's Day is the ever-present Cupid (aka: Eros and Amor), the little cherub who was the son of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty. The young, playful god was known as the god of love, and is most often depicted in art flying around with a bow and arrow, shooting love into the hearts of the unsuspecting. Of course, Cupid and the heart became the symbols of love and Valentine's Day.
Most likely, all these stories merged together over the centuries to become the holiday we celebrate today. Food plays a major part in the celebration of this holiday. Chocolates are a traditional favorite but other foods are also love triggers.
Aphrodisiac Foods of Love
Set the Mood for Your Romantic Meal
Recipes for Love - Valentine's Day Recipes
Cookbooks for Lovers