The Origin of Valentines Day


Every year on the 14th of February, people celebrate the holiday of love, Valentine’s Day. Many celebrate Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine, by buying their loved ones cards, chocolate, gifts, flowers, you name it. Although it’s celebrated around the world, not many know of its true origins. Unfortunately, there are several conflicting reports as to the true origins of Valentine’s Day, though most agree it dates back to the early Christian church in ancient Rome. What scholars do unanimously agree on, however, is that Valentine’s Day is named after a Christian martyr and has origins in the Roman festival, Lupercalia,

The pagan festival, Lupercalia, honored either Lupa, the she-wolf of Rome who suckled Romulus and Remus, or Faunus, the Roman God of fertility. The festival began with the sacrifice of an animal and other such activities to bestow fertilities on the young women for the coming year. In order to Christianize the pagan festival, Pope Gelasius declared the fourteenth of February as Saint Valentine’s Day. As for the real Saint Valentine, there are conflicting reports regarding who was the true martyr who went on to have a holiday named after him. Some say Saint Valentine was a Christian priest who lived during Emperor Claudius’ rule. Claudius was an emperor who banned marriages to remove any emotional attachments in his vast number of soldiers. Father Valentine defied the emperor, marrying young lovers in secret. He was later imprisoned and sentenced to death by the emperor after he became aware of his actions. The story goes that the young couples that Father Valentine wedded would often visit him in prison, offering flowers and love notes as tokens of gratitude. While imprisoned, Father Valentine fell in love with his jailor’s daughter and on his execution day, February 14, he passed her a note, signed “From your Valentine.” Thus, a tradition was born.

Fast-forwarding to today, we have almost completely removed the religious and pagan aspects of the holiday, making Valentine’s Day one of the most celebrated holidays. Every Valentine’s Day, Americans purchase hundreds of millions in roses, spend millions in chocolate and other candies, not to mention what is spent on cards, dinners and dates. The holiday brings in almost 14 billion dollars annually so it is safe to say it has become a staple in American tradition. Interestingly, the holiday is not only celebrated between couples. Although you may blush and be overjoyed when receiving a beautiful gift from your significant other, know that love and adoration can also be extended to family members and friends. Tell your parents you love them, offer your friends some chocolate and cards, and enjoy a charming date with your significant other. Celebrate Valentine’s Day this year with your loved ones and look forward to many more to come.