Valentine’s Day Origins

Rachel Laventure, Staff Writer

Every year on February 14th, we celebrate a day of love and romance: Valentine’s Day. This day is commemorated by candy hearts, roses and a lot of chocolate. However, most people don’t know the origins of this love filled day. There are many stories and legends surrounding Valentine’s Day, but the most popular one by far originates in the Roman era. Taking place around the year 278 A.D., Rome was under a ruler named Claudius, a man who was responsible for many unnecessary wars. Having problem to get soldiers to join the army, he believed the origin of this problem was that the men were too attached to their children and wives and could not leave home. In response to that, he chose to ban all marriages and engagement. People were outraged, angered at this unfair decree. Valentine, a priest, defied the unfair rule of Claudius and continued to marry people in secret. He was soon discovered and arrested for violating the law. He was sentenced to be beaten to death with clubs, and to have his head cut off. This sentence was carried out on February 14, and in response, the Catholic church named him a saint, and made the 14th a holiday.

Before this however, the 13 through the 15th were reserved to celebrate Lupercalia, a Pagan Holiday celebrating health and fertility. Many traditions including sacrificing goats and dogs, and then whipping others with their hides, believing that this would make them fertile. As Rome slowly became more Catholic, Lupercalia became more and more taboo. The Catholic church then replaced Lupercalia with Valentine’s Day in honor of Saint Valentine and to also obliterate pagan influence, hence the day we now know and celebrate became a tradition.