Valentine’s Day Origins; Not Always Flowers and Romance

Jillian Pride, Business Manager/Secretary

When you think of Valentine’s Day many people think of the typical red and pink hearts, couples spending quality time together, or the famous Roman God of love, Cupid. 

While Valentine’s Day now is celebrated as a loving and cheerful holiday, it was once celebrated as the very opposite. Many misconceptions have been created, but the traditional celebration of Valentine’s Day was dark, bloody, and gory.  

“I personally don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day for a few reasons: one being that it comes from St. Valentine, who was a nice man, but this holiday wasn’t always celebrated for a good reason,” said Senior Anna Cochrane. 

February has been celebrated as a month of romance for centuries, but there are many controversies about how Valentine’s Day came to be. Historians are still unsure about the exact specifications of Valentine’s Day, but it is well known that it is currently celebrated as a day of love, which is a dramatic change of events. 

Valentine’s Day was typically a Christian and ancient Roman tradition; but, what historians are still unsure about is how Valentine’s Day got its name. There are many legends about who St. Valentine was; but according to an article titled “Valentines day isn’t always about love”, the most popular legend is that a man with the name St. Valentine defied the Roman emperor’s orders and was secretly marrying couples to save the husbands from going to war. 

It is still unclear, and impossible to get all the dark secrets that the true “Valentines day” traditions once held.

As the world evolved, so did the holiday; and now every year when Feb. 14 rolls around, people from around the world gather with their loved ones. Many participate in Valentine’s Day parties, passing out valentines to classmates, hanging out with girlfriends for “Galentine’s day” or taking their partner out on a romantic date.

While it is a cliché to many, there are many people who still find new and fun ways to celebrate this holiday.  

    “For Valentine’s Day my boyfriend and I are going to watch movies and make chocolate covered strawberries.  Yes, it is cliché but that’s the whole point right?” said Senior Maggie Yost.

Some individuals believe that celebrating a day of love is silly because you don’t need a specific day to validate love for one another. Similar to other small holidays, some people just don’t feel the need to celebrate or don’t have a reason to. 

“I don’t personally celebrate Valentine’s Day, but I think it’s OK. I guess it gives people another reason to celebrate their love,” said Junior Rupa Paudel. 

Surprisingly enough, Valentine’s Day wasn’t celebrated as a day of love until the 14th century. Prior to then, Valentine’s Day was typically celebrated from Feb. 13 to Feb.15 and was called “Lupercalia” to celebrate the coming of spring. 

During these festivals men would participate in gory rituals such as sacrificing animals and hitting women.  It was believed that by participating in these traditions it would bring women fertility. 

In an article titled “The Dark History of Valentine’s day” it mentions that during the 14th century Valentine’s Day became celebrated as a “sweeter” holiday, this was because at this point in time Shakespeare began to romanticize “Valentine’s Day“ in his work and incorporated it into his productions. By doing so this new version of Valentine’s Day gained popularity throughout Britain and Europe.   At the end of the 5th century, a Roman Pope,  Pope Gelasius officially declared Feb. 14 as St. Valentine’s Day. 

As this holiday gained popularity, infamous traditions that many still participate in now were created. The most popular being  handmade paper cards or “Tokens-du-Jour,” which is what is known as valentines. 

According to  “Valentines Day: Why we celebrate it”, the very first mass production of Valentine’s Day cards were created by Hallmark in 1913. This ushered the industrial revolution of factory produced cards, which has evolved ever since. 

Despite the history behind it, Valentine’s Day can be refreshing to see people spend a day showing a little extra appreciation for their loved ones. Whether you’re spending your Valentine’s Day alone or with someone special, it is important to always show love and appreciation for one another. Happy Valentine’s day!