History of Valentine’s Day

Sydney Huff, Guest Writer

Valentine’s Day is celebrated all around the world today as a time of showing your love to others. Valentine’s Day did not start out as a cheerful holiday full of love. The origins of this holiday were quite different from how we view them today. No one has been able to exactly describe where the origins started but it all goes back to Ancient Rome.

The Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia around February 13-15. Lupus is Latin for wolf, so the name is most likely connected to wolves such as the deity that protected herds from wolves with the mythical she-wolf who nursed Romulus and Remus. It was also connected to fertility with the god Faunus. This festival began as the men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped the women with the animal hides. Young women would actually line up to be hit in hopes that they would become fertile. Emperor Claudius II had two men executed on February 14 of different years of the 3rd century A. D. Both of these men were named Valentine. These men were celebrated by the Catholic Church for dying for their faith by the creation of Valentine’s Day.

Pope Gelasius I combined Lupercalia and Valentine’s Day as a way to remove the pagan rituals. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized the holiday in their work and it began to gain popularity in Britain and the rest of Europe. In the 18th century giving gifts and homemade cards became a regular occurrence on Valentine’s Day in England. Valentine’s Day did not become a widespread celebration in the United States until the 1850’s. In 1913 Hallmark Cards began a mass production of Valentine’s cards in America. According to IBIS World, Valentine’s Day sales reached $17.6 billion last year; this year’s sales are expected to toal $18.6 billion. Although Valentine’s Day has dark origins, it has transformed into a holiday of showing love to others.