February the 14th is rather special, for it is customary (some might claim even mandatory!) for couples around the world to lavishly celebrate their love on what has come to be known as Valentine’s Day. But behind the romantic pledges, pretty flowers, sexy lingerie and adorable greeting cards there lay a rather sad story.
A special man
Traditionally, February 13th was for the ancient Romans a Pagan feast in honor of Juno, Queen of the gods of Rome and Goddess of women and marriage. The next day marked the beginning of the Lupercalia Festival during which the, then socially constricted, young boys and girls came into contact and via a series of rites often fell in love with each other.
Things began to change in the 3rd century A.D. when the cruel Emperor Claudius Gothicus realized that these customs actually hurt the vigilance of his soldiers who, hooked on their loved ones as they were, seemed rather reluctant to go to war. Without pondering too much about it, he issued a decree banning all marriages and engagements in Rome.
This dictate did not sit well with Valentine, a young priest who in defiance continued to marry couples secretly. Claudius, however, soon found out and sentenced Valentine to imprisonment and beheading. Ostensibly on the day that he died, which was according to the legend the 14th of February, Valentine left a thank-you note to the warden’s daughter, who was his frequent companion during his time in prison. The letter was signed “With love, Valentine”, a phrase which was destined to be repeated time and time again in the following centuries.
A special couple
As the state religion in Greece is Greek Orthodox, St Valentine is not actually recognized as a saint (of course this does not seem to deter or diminish the zest of Greek couples in the least!). And while this “foreign” undoubtedly heroic and above all romantic figure has become the hallmark of love universally, according to the traditional Orthodox faith, love is celebrated on February the 13th, the day of Saints Akyla and Priscilla, who martyred for their faith. In fact theirs is an equally intriguing story. Akylas was a Jew born in Pontus. At a young age he moved to Rome, where he met Priscilla, a Roman girl of the upper classes. They fell in love and married. In response to riots triggered by Orthodox and Christian Jews, in relation to Jesus Christ, Emperor Claudius the 4th ordered the evacuation of all Jewish inhabitants from the eternal city.
Akylas and Priscilla arrived in Corinth, around the year 50 AD, where they met with Paul. The couple shared the same profession with the Apostle and over time a close friendship developed. Akylas and Priscilla were introduced to Christianity and baptized by Paul. Their devotion to him was such that they followed him on his journey to Asia Minor, helping him spread the word of God. From Syria, they went to Ephesus, where they took a leading role in the small Christian community of the time. Subsequently they became a topic of research and debate among theologians. In the New Testament Akylas’ name is mentioned first as many times as Priscilla’s is, and this has led several scholars to assert that although the position of women was at the time subordinate, their apostolic work was considered equal.
Their success in spreading Christianity showcased them as prominent members of the Christian community, yet made them equally hated in the eyes of zealous pagans.
Ephesus was then the epicenter of pagan worship. The Temple of Artemis– in fact one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and landmark of the city- attracted a large and quite fanatical crowd. Akylas and Priscilla were thus persecuted and found martyr death for their faith. They are commemorated honored in the Orthodox calendar, not only for their apostolic work, but also for their harmonious marital relationship and the unique love that they had for each other. Indeed Apostle Luke describes Akyla and Priscilla as the ideal Christian couple.
Celebrate a special occasion in Mykonos
Everybody loves the chance for a bit of romance, and not necessarily on the designated day (s). Cosmopolitan as well as picturesque Mykonos undoubtedly constitutes the ideal backdrop for a romantic escapade. And while it is always a good idea to visit this whitewashed, charming island, it is even better to treat yourselves to an unparalleled hospitality experience. The San Marco luxury beach hotel in Mykonos, just 4 km northwest of the center of town, at the beautiful Houlakia bay, invites you to its elite world and promises that your holidays will remain unforgettable.
A treasured, special experience
Elegant and luxurious, modern yet full of character, coupled with unsurpassed tailor made service, the San Marco Private Villas with pools are here to transform your holiday in Mykonos into an experience like no other. Treat yourself to a cocktail by your private pool, watching the amazing sunset over the Aegean Sea, knowing that you deserve only the absolute best. Relax and unwind at our very own sanctuary of wellbeing: The Houlakia Boutique Spa at San Marco Hotel & Villas in Mykonos, in its state of the art facilities, features a variety of massage therapies as well as luxurious beauty treatments, a relaxing nail salon offering spa manicures and pedicures and a hammam steam bath. After all you will want to look your best on this special occasion! And what better way to celebrate it than at San Marco Hotel’s Veranda Restaurant. Quaint and charming, open exclusively for dinner, it is one of the most romantic venues of this renowned island, offering an enticing gourmet dining evening experience. Make sure you arrive just before sunset, for it offers magnificent vistas of the sun setting down upon Houlakia bay.