Did You Know? Origins of Valentine’s Day

By Sarah Coleman

February 14 is often associated with flowers, sweets in the shape of hearts, love and happiness. However, the many possible origins of Valentine’s Day is not as lovey dovey as it seems. As many historical events, Valentine’s Day can be traced back to the Romans, specifically to the celebration of Lupercalia.

According to NPR, the Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia from February 13 to February 15. This celebration is often described as a pagan ritual and related to Faunus, the god of nature and the wild. It included sacrificial ceremonies, drinking, matchmaking sessions and even whipping women to make them fertile.

Another possible explanation for Valentine’s Day is the celebration of a Catholic tradition that honors male martyrs named Valentine. These men were all executed by the Roman emperor Claudius II who banned marriages and engagements in Rome to encourage Roman men to join the army. Eventually, a pope named Gelasius combined St. Valentine’s Day and Lupercalia into one to Christianize the holiday.

But when did Valentine’s Day turn into the most romantic and commercialized day of love on earth? According to Tech Times, Valentine’s Day became lovey dovey due to the romantic works of writers such as Shakespeare and Chaucer. For example, Chaucer’s “The Parliament of Fowls” is considered as the first St. Valentine’s Day poem ever written, solidifying the connection between February 14 and the concept of romantic love. The holiday continued to be romanticized as businesses like Hallmark started mass producing valentines since 1913, turning it into the holiday we know today.

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