The history behind Valentine’s Day

Many people view Valentine’s Day as a shallow and superficial holiday, but in reality, the Valentine’s Day  is rooted in ancient tradition. The origins of Valentine’s Day trace back to the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia.

Held on February 15, Lupercalia honored the gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. The Lupercalia festivities involved a feast and the pairing of young men and women. The men would draw a woman’s name from a box and they would be paired until the celebration the next year.

Valentine’s Day did not receive its current name until a priest named Valentine disobeyed Emperor Claudius II’s decree that soldiers remain bachelors. Claudius believed love would cloud their judgment in battle, and that their job should be their main focus.  Valentine secretly performed marriage ceremonies for the soldiers and their sweethearts. As a result of his defiance, Valentine was put to death on February 14.

After Valentine’s death, he was named a saint. As Christianity spread through Rome, the priests moved Lupercalia from February 15 to February 14 and renamed it St. Valentine’s Day to honor Saint Valentine and his romantic heart.

Today we are often cynical of this holiday. Many people believe love should be celebrated not on one particular day of the year, but every day.

Senior Bridget Davis believes that, “All the hype around Valentine’s Day turns a holiday that has a wonderful meaning into an opportunity for negativity.”

Although the commercialism of this holiday has taken some of the authenticity out of this holiday, we should remember that Valentine’s Day is a reminder of the love in our lives, romantic or otherwise. We should appreciate that we are now able to choose our own Valentine unlike the young people of Ancient Greece, and cherish those we have in our life.


Valentine’s Day fun facts:

  • Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day Cards are sent each year
  • Physicians of the 1800s commonly advised their patients to eat chocolate to calm their pining for lost love
  • More than 1 billion dollars’ worth of chocolate is purchased for Valentine’s Day
  • 73% of people who buy flowers on Valentine’s Day are men
  • Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the United States, Canada, Mexico, England, France, Australia, Denmark and Italy
  • 15% of Women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s day
  • About 8 billion candy hearts will be produced this year for the holiday
  • The top gifts women want this year include a Keurig cofee maker or a juicer