The History of Valentine’s Day


Bryan Lim, Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day, is a holiday many people love and hate. Celebrated annually on Feb. 14, Valentine’s day is a special holiday where people celebrate love and affection from around the world. However, Valentine’s Day is also celebrated for another reason. Valentine’s Day is also remembered because of the feast day of Saint Valentine, who was an ancient Roman saint. Here are the history and origins of Valentine’s Day and Saint Valentine. 

The history of Valentine’s Day originated in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was held in the middle of February. The festival included pairing women with men via lotteries, where a man would choose a name and become paired with the chosen woman. The matches usually ended with a marriage. The festival also had many traditional acts such as brutally skinning a goat and dipping the hide into sacrificial blood. They would then gently slap the women with the goat hide covered with blood. It was believed that when the women were slapped with the soaked goat hide, it would bring more fertility.

At the end of the fifth century, a Pope called Gelasius I had replaced Lupercalia with Saint Valentine’s Day, and the day of romance is now celebrated as Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14. Others also claim that the Christian Church decided to place Valentine’s Day in the middle of the month to “Christianize” the celebration of Lupercalia also known as Saint Valentine’s Day.

Legends say that Saint Valentine was a priest who served in the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made for better soldiers, he outlawed marriage for young men. Saint Valentine realized that this was unfair, so he continued to allow marriages for lovers in secret. When Saint Valentine was caught, Emperor Claudius found this as treason and he ordered Saint Valentine to death.  

Valentine greetings were also popular, but weren’t written until after the fourteenth century with the oldest known valentine written as a poem by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was in jail. The first to record Saint Valentine’s Day as an actual holiday was Geoffrey Chaucer, who was an English poet in 1375. 

“For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh there to choose his mate,” Geoffrey Chaucer, English poet. 

In a nutshell, the history of Valentine’s Day is quite messy and tricky, as there were many festivals and strange traditions practiced. Valentine’s Day is seen as a pleasant holiday meant to celebrate the affection and love people have for each other, but the origin of it is quite the opposite.