What Does "Will You Be My Valentine" Really Mean?

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The phrase, "Will you be my valentine?" is used on Valentine's Day to ask someone if they want to spend the day together and exchange gifts. The phrase is not usually associated with asking someone to be in a committed relationship. This is why it is a tradition to give Valentine's Day cards to classmates and friends in school. Exchanging these gifts is not a symbol of furthering a relationship but the agreement to celebrate friendships and relationships with others.

Valentine's Day is observed in honor of Saint Valentine. Although there were many saints with the name Valentine, the holiday is in celebration of the saint who was executed and buried on Feb. 14. His crime was helping and protecting Christians during a time when Roman Paganism was the dominant religion. One of his biggest crimes was performing wedding ceremonies for Christians. This is the reason why Saint Valentine is linked so heavily to romance.

Despite the fact that he was executed by Roman Pagans, he was later martyred by the Catholic Church in A.D. 270. One story told by the church about Saint Valentine is about him curing the daughter of his jailer from an illness. Saint Valentine left the jailer a farewell card that was signed, “from your Valentine.” Giving people Valentine's Day cards is a remembrance of this.

After he was martyred, his bones were sent to a priest in Dublin in 1836 as a gift from Pope Gregory. The church where the bones are held is a pilgrimage site for those wishing to honor St. Valentine. Couples often travel to the site symbolically seeking the blessing of St. Valentine. Relics of St. Valentine can also be found in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, the Church of St. Peter and Paul at Vysehrad in Prague, and in the parish church of St. Mary's Assumption in Chelmno Poland. St. Valentine is recognized as the Patron Saint of engaged couples, bee keepers, epilepsy, greetings, young people, travellers, love, fainting, and plague.