The Origins of Valentine’s Day

The Origins of Valentines Day

Peyton Hassinger, Staff Writer

It’s that time of year again. The chocolate shelves are empty and love is in the air. Lovers around the world are spending any savings and free time they have to celebrate their loved ones this February 14th, Valentine’s Day. But do we really know why we celebrate it or how the holiday gained popularity? 

Let’s go back to the very origins of the holiday with Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. The brothers were raised by a she-wolf given the name Lupercal. After the founding of Rome, they created a holiday called “Lupercalia” in honor of Lupercal celebrated on February 15th. The festival usually involved animal sacrifice and coupling of priests and women. It was a ritual of purification and fertility. This dramatic ritual was eliminated by Pope Gelasius I and replaced with a day on February 14th to celebrate the martyr, St. Valentine.  Some scholars believe that the saint was two different people, one person, or that he didn’t exist at all. He was imprisoned for conducting secret marriages and often sent people he helped letters signed, “From your Valentine”, gaining him a reputation as a “patron of lovers”. After he was beheaded for his crimes on February 14th, he was recognized as a saint. But it doesn’t end there. Romance only became associated with the holiday with the poet Geoffrey Chaucer. In his poem, Parliament of Fowls, he links romance and the holiday by saying, “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate.” Romance was already becoming a growing trend at this time with stories containing tropes of yearning and tragic obstacles, Nights seen pursuing noble ladies with love poems known as Valentines, and later, Shakespeare and his romantic tragedies.