The History of Valentine’s Day

The+History+of+Valentine%27s+Day

Lalia Williams

Valentine’s day is one of the most controversial (though overall accepted) holidays all throughout the world. It is one of those things that we often simply know to exist, never really questioning it’s origins or past meaning. But the actual history of Valentine’s day is rather disturbing. Here is what we know:

In the Roman era, February 13th to 15th was a Lupercalia celebration. Men would sacrifice small animals and beat women with the hides of the animals they killed. They would also draw names of other people to spend the time with. So this time was romantic in a way, but not exactly desirable.

Historians believe that the name ” St. Valentine” came from the fact that the Roman emperor sacrificed two men with that name on February 14th (though in different centuries). It could be that they became martyrs of a sort, and that this martyrdom lead to their name being honored. One of the saints allegedly was killed because he was trying to assist Christians in escaping the brutal and terrible Roman prisons. He was said to have sent a letter to a woman he loved and signed it “from your Valentine”, which is a phrase that is still modernly used.

Also, around the 5th century the Romans began trying to get rid of the pagan traditions that once surrounded the festival. This led to the day becoming less brutal and more centered around love rather than sacrifice.

Later on, the day may have been accidental combined with the Normans’ romantic holiday, “Galatin’s Day” (with “galatin” meaning “lover of women”), because the names sound similar. And this lead to the romanticism of the holiday that we know today.