It is the 14th of February, and we all know what that means: Valentine’s Day! During Valentine’s Day, we would exchange chocolates with our loved ones, or give them letters to proclaim our love for them. However, what is the real history of Valentine’s Day? This time, let’s go back in time and see when the day of love first began!
The history of Valentine’s Day in the modern era might have started at the end of the 5th century, in which Pope Gelasius declared that the 14th of February would become Saint Valentine’s Day. Ever since, there would be a romantic or religious celebration on that day every year.
But who was Saint Valentine?
Apparently, no one can agree to what Saint Valentine did in the history of Valentine’s Day. There are at least a few stories about what he did. One of them said that Saint Valentine was executed by the Roman Emperor Claudius II because he refused to convert to Pagan. However, it has nothing to do with how modern Valentine’s Day is synonymous to love.
But there is a second story.
The other story is also about Saint Valentine and Emperor Claudius II, but the reason behind his execution was different. Back then, Claudius banned marriage because he thought that single men would become a much better soldier. However, St. Valentine realized the injustice of that decree, and continued to perform marriages for young lovers. When Claudius found out about this, he ordered Valentine to be beheaded.
And then, there is the third story.
This last story tells the tale of St. Valentine that was killed because he attempted to help some Christians escaping the Roman prisons. When Valentine was captured and jailed, he sent various letters to a young girl who was possibly the daughter of his jailor. Before his death, it is said that Valentine wrote a letter with a sign: “From your Valentine” which is written in the history of Valentine’s Day as the first “valentine” greeting.
The modern history of Valentine’s Day
However, the history of Valentine’s Day did not start only from the stories of St. Valentine. Many stories tell that the ceremony of St. Valentine’s death was strategically placed in the middle of February to “Christianize” the Pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman’s god of agriculture and Romulus & Remus as the Roman’s founders.
During the Lupercalia, after the sacrifice of a goat, Roman women would put their names inside an urn. Then, the bachelors would pick a name from the urn that would be their partner of the day. Most of the time, the matches done this way would end in marriage, and that is how the history of Valentine’s Day would be synonymous to the celebration of love.
But what does this mean to modern Valentine’s Day? What is the true meaning behind Valentine’s Day? With how murky the history of Valentine’s Day, the day itself has transformed from when it was first celebrated long ago. However, one thing remains: it still is a day to celebrate love. This means, in the modern day you can do anything when it comes to Valentine’s Day. You can buy chocolate for your loved ones, or you can do some self-care, because self-love is also a form of love.