When I was in elementary school Valentine’s Day was one of my top five favorite holidays. There were cards, flowers, candy hearts, and the possibility that my crush might actually like me back. Every February, across the country, flowers, candy hearts, and chocolate are exchanged by couples on a day intended just for the sole purpose of being romantic and receiving gifts, all in the name of St. Valentine. What we are not taught when we are little is that Valentine’s Day was not originally about romance and celebrating your significant other, but a gruesome, religious tale. But who is this mysterious St. Valentine and where did these traditions come from?
The history of St. Valentine comes with many legends. One legend is told that in the third century, Valentine was a priest who served in Rome. An emperor, Claudius II, decided that men with wives and a family would not make good soldiers compared to those who were single. Therefore, marriage was forbidden for young men in this time period. Valentine saw the injustice of the law and went against Claudius continuing to perform marriages in secret. When the saint’s rebellious actions were exposed, Claudius ordered that he be martyred.
While many believe that this holiday is celebrated on February 14 to commemorate the death of Valentine, others believe that the roots of this day lie in the Christianization of the ancient festival Lupercalia.
Before his death on February 14, it is suggested that the priest sent the first “Valentine’s Day card” to his jailor’s daughter signed “Your Valentine”. Now when you ask that special someone to be your valentine, you will have a wealth of knowledge of where this tradition came from.
Some would say that vday is a money-guzzling marketing holiday, made just for couples to show their affection for one another one day a year, but like other holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day or Easter, Valentine’s Day has made its way into pop culture. Yes, chocolate and flowers are nice, but the next time you celebrate with your loved ones, you should be mindful of its true origin. It is not always about the gifts, but so much more.
Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!
For more information watch this video: History of Valentine’s Day