The origins of Valentine's Day

A special day celebrated by people all over the world as an expression of love, but where did this romantic day originate from?

The romantic day which takes place on February 14, through expressions of love by sending flowers, chocolates and cards is celebrated not only in the United States of America but all over the world, but where did this special day originate from?

The Saint

The patron saint of the day is Saint Valentine. The Catholic Church has recognized three different Saints named Valentine (or Valentinus). There are different myths surrounding who and what Valentine did, including one that supposedly lived in the third century in Rome under the rule of Emperor Claudius II. The myth explains that during this time the Emperor believed that men made better soldiers if they were single and had no families. Valentine realized the injustice that was happening and decided to secretly marry young men anyway. He did this in defiance of the Emperor so, when he was discovered he was sentenced to death by decapitation. 

From your Valentine... 

There are a lot of different versions of how Valentine’s Day came about...Another myth claims that Valentine was a bishop from Terni, Italy who was also decapitated by Claudius II in Rome. One other one claims that Valentine would help Christians escape the brutality of prisons in Rome as the prisoners were tortured in heinous ways. It is also believed that a young man, named Valentine, who was actually imprisoned in Rome who was in love with a young woman, before his death he supposedly wrote her a love letter that he signed “From your Valentine” – a phrase which is still being used today when signing Valentine’s day cards.

Although all of these myths have no real proof, in all versions of the myth, all of the Saint Valentines were martyred, sentenced to death for their beliefs. The special day is also believed to take place around the Lupercalia festival which took place between the 13 to the 15 of February and was celebrated in Italy.

The purpose of this festival that was celebrated in Rome was to cleanse the city, promote fertility and health and stop evil spirits from entering the city. It was then believed that in the middle of February this was when birds would mate, which added to the theme of romanticism on this specific day. This belief of mating in the middle of the month also began to appear in literature when the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer mentioned (and was the first to do so) Valentine’s day in his poem “The Parliament of Fowls” in which he wrote, “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day, Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.” 

Cupid 

Although Valentine’s day is believed to originate from the Romans, Greek mythology also plays a role in this romantic day. Cupid is featured in most Valentine’s day artwork, cards and is closely associated with everything surrounding this love-filled day. Cupid was portrayed in Greek mythology as Eros, the god of love. He was believed to be an immortal who fooled around with the emotions of Gods and men by shooting golden arrows in order to provoke feelings of love.

Although the origin of Valentine’s day began in ancient times, the day only truly became commercial at the beginning of the 20th century and has since become a billion-dollar industry. 

People all over the world spend an abundant amount of money on this specific day to shower their loved ones with flowers, chocolates, gifts, cards and dinners. 

The growing popularity of this day also went hand-in-hand with the people opposed to it celebrating “Singles Day”, hosting “anti-Valentines” parties and believing that couples should show affection and appreciation for each other every day of the year and not just on one specific day. Which side are you on?

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