The History of Valentine’s Day


Mariah Hanna, Op/Ed editor

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. It’s a day to spread love to friends, family,  and loved ones. Even though this holiday has been around for years, not everyone knows the origins of the holiday or why it came to be known as Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day does not have a guaranteed reason for why it was made a holiday. The holiday had ties to the early Christian Church in Rome. The date of Valentine’s Day is most likely from a Pagan festival known as the Lupercalia, which celebrated health and fertility. During the festival, the citizens honored Lupa, a sheepwolf of Rome, or Fanus, their god of fertility. The festival started with animal sacrifice, then a whipping of young girls with the strips of the animals’ skin to give fertility for the coming year. Then, in the 5th century, Pope Gelasius deemed February 14 as Saint Valentine’s Day.

The traditions of Valentine’s Day have a much darker story though. Writing the love notes and signing them as, “from your Valentine” comes from one guy, a priest named St. Valentine. Valentine lived during the 3rd century AD under the rule of Emperor Claudius II. The emperor was a ruler who required big armies to fight wars and battles. He made the soldiers abandon their families for long periods of time so they could go fight, making the soldiers fight half-heartedly because they missed their home. So to stop the soldiers getting so homesick, he banned marriages altogether. St. Valentine didn’t listen though. He continued to marry young couples in secret. Claudius II soon caught on to what Valentine was doing, and arrested him and sentenced him to death. It is said that young couples that he had wed would visit him in his cell, and would give him flowers and notes through the bars to show their appreciation. After being in jail, St. Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. On the day Valentine was set to be executed, he wrote the daughter a love letter, and signed it “from your Valentine.” And ever since then, on February 14, it’s a tradition to write love notes and sign them as your valentine.

Valentine’s Day has a dark history behind its traditions and why it’s on February 14. But even after all these years, we still celebrate it. Now you don’t have to die for love as St. Valentine did, but you can show people your love for them through the traditions.