February 14 is quickly approaching and I began to wonder where this idea originated. I assumed that Hallmark invented it. I did some investigating and it is not a Hallmark invention. The Valentine tradition began around 270 AD with a priest named Saint Valentine. This priest was made a saint after he was executed for believing in love. The Roman Emperor of the time, Claudius II wanted the soldiers in the army to be aggressive and brave but was finding that if they were married, they were less likely to put themselves in harms way, so as not to leave their families fatherless. The emperor put in effect a ban on all marriages until the war was over. The soft hearted Saint Valentine began to marry couples in secret because he believed in the institution of marriage according to Christ. The emporer found out about the secret marriages and imprisoned St. Valentine and executed him on February 14, 270 AD. Saint Valentine wrote a letter to his sweetheart the day of his execution and signed it “your valentine”, which we still see to this day. When Valentines day rolls around, try to remember that it all started with someone who believed in love, and was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for that gift. Always remember that love is a gift and never take it for granted.