The History Of Valentine’s Day

February 10, 2023

Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, many of us are curious how this day originated. Valentine’s Day celebration has evolved over the years. The modern version of celebrating the day with hearts, roses, and chocolates is different from what really happened in history. In fact, the origin of the special day is quite bloody. 

Valentine’s Day – when it began

Many experts believe that Valentine’s Day started with a man we know today as St. Valentine. However, there are studies that the day started before he came along. The holiday might have originated from the ancient pagan festival of Lupercalia. The celebration was also observed during the middle of February by the Romans, and it involved feasts and pairing with partners. 

However, the Roman celebration involved other activities with debauchery, blood, and sacrifice. Part of their tradition was to sacrifice goats and cut the hide into strips. The strips were then dipped in blood, and priests would go around slapping women with the strips. This practice was believed to make women more fertile in the coming year. This is why the color red is associated with Valentine’s Day. 

When the Romans recognized Christianity, they turned away from the tradition and embraced St. Valentine. The practice of Lupercalia was then banned at the end of the 5th century. This was also the period when Pope Gelasius declared the 14th of February as the day of St. Valentine. 

The popularity of St. Valentine

The exact identity of St. Valentine was quite vague. There were two different men with the name Valentine who were executed during the time of Emperor Claudius II of Rome. This event happened on February 14 of the 3rd century. St. Valentine was said to be a priest who was arrested and executed for defying the Roman decree of marrying their soldiers. The other Valentine was also a priest who fell in love with one of her visitors. He started writing her letters and sent the woman a letter before he was executed, which he signed off “From your Valentine.” Whoever the priest was, that day greatly influenced the day we know. 

Celebrating Valentine’s Day today

Nowadays, we celebrate the holiday with romantic love and not the bloody history. This transformation is due to the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. He associated romantic love with St. Valentine through his14th century works, “The Parlement of Foules” and “The Complaint of Mars.” Other writers also contributed their fair share to how we celebrate Valentine’s Day these days. 

During the middle of the 18th century, lovers exchange tokens and notes on the special day. The Industrial Revolution during the 19th century helped create printed Valentine’s Day cards, and Hallmark mass-produced this idea in 1913.

Modern Valentine’s Day celebration comes in various forms in different countries. You will see that almost all restaurants, malls, and other establishments are packed on February 14. Other couples somehow want to avoid the traffic and craze, prompting them to celebrate in advance or after February 14. Whatever the date they choose, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love with your partner.