Valentine’s Day is a holiday that is celebrated on February 14th every year, and is a day dedicated to love, affection, and romance. It is a day when people express their love and appreciation for their significant others, friends, and family members through gifts, gestures, and kind words. But do you know the origin of this widely celebrated holiday?  

The history of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to ancient Roman times, with various legends and stories that have influenced its modern-day celebration. One of the earliest origins of this holiday can be found in ancient Rome during the festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated from February 13th to 15th. This was a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus, and the founders of Rome, Romulus, and Remus. During this festival, men would sacrifice goats and dogs, and use their hides to whip women in the belief that it would make them more fertile.  

Women would then put their names in an urn, and the men would choose a name, and be paired with the chosen woman for the duration of the festival. While this practice might seem barbaric to us now, it was a regular part of Roman culture at the time.  

Another origin story of Valentine’s Day is tied to the life of a Christian saint, Valentinus. There are many different versions of this story, but one of the most popular ones is about a Roman priest named Valentinus, who lived in the third century. At that time, the Roman Emperor Claudius II had banned marriage for young men as he believed that single men made better soldiers. Valentinus, who believed in the sanctity of love and marriage, continued to perform marriages for young couples in secret. When his actions were discovered, he was imprisoned and later executed on February 14th, 269 AD. While he was in prison, it is said that he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, and before his execution, he wrote her a letter, signing it as “From your Valentine.” The legend of Saint Valentinus spread throughout Europe over the years, and February 14th became known as a day to celebrate love and romance.  

However, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that the holiday started taking on romantic connotations. It is believed that during this time, people started exchanging handmade cards and tokens of affection with each other. In fact, the oldest known Valentine’s Day card dates to the 15th century, which was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The famous quote, “The course of true love never did run smooth,” from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is also tied to Valentine’s Day. In the play, Shakespeare mentions that February 14th is a day dedicated to love, and since then, the holiday has become associated with romance and affection.  

The modern celebrations of Valentine’s Day began to take shape in the 19th century in England and the United States, where people started exchanging commercially printed cards, flowers, and chocolates with their loved ones. Today, Valentine’s Day has become a major commercial holiday, with people spending billions of dollars on gifts, cards, and flowers for their significant others. In conclusion, Valentine’s Day has a long and diverse history, with pagan roots and Christian influence. While its origin may be tied to different stories and legends, its celebration has always been centered around love, affection, and appreciation for the special people in our lives. Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, it serves as a reminder to cherish and express our love for our significant others and loved ones. Happy Valentine’s Day!