A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

Karen Demeyere, Staff Writer

Valentine’s day is here, and whether or not you are celebrating it, it is nice to know where the holiday actually comes from. Although it might seem that it is just a big commercial holiday to sell chocolate, teddy bears, or really any heart shaped item, there is actually some history behind it.

First of all, who is the Valentine of Valentine’s day. Throughout history there were multiple saints named Valentine, but the one that most people belief Valentine’s day was named after lived in the third century AD. Valentine was the man who, after Emperor Claudius II banned marriages, secretly married couples. So he was in fact a big supporter of love.

Next, let’s discover why the holiday is celebrated on the 14th of February. That all started in the early Roman times. Back then there was a holiday on the 15th of February called ‘Lupercalia’. This was a celebration for the god of agriculture, Faunus, and the founders of Rome. Priests would sacrifice a goat and a dog in Lupa’s cave. Lupa was the wolf who raised Romulus and Remus.

Afterwards, women would cover themselves in the animals’ blood and run around while they were gently slapped by men watching the spectacle. The Romans believed this would increase fertility. The women’s names would then be put in an urn. Each man got to pick a name and spend a year with the woman whose name he picked.

In the 5th century AD Pope Gelasius deemed that practice unchristian and installed Valentine’s day the day before. We can assume that this way, he hoped people would forget about the ancient practice of Lupercalia.

Although not all of us are a big fan of Valentine’s day, I think we can all agree that the modern version we celebrate today is better than Lupercalia. Rather a day spent watching other people receive gifts while feeling a little lonely than a day spend covered in animal blood.