The History of Valentine’s Day

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Christy Cohen, Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day: a day to recognize love and romance. Also called Saint Valentine’s Day and the Feast of Saint Valentine, it is the day when many people around the world gift chocolates, flowers, and cards to each other to express their love and affection for one another. Have you ever wondered why we do this?

While the history behind Valentine’s Day is not 100% certain, it does have links dating back to ancient Rome and the early Christian church.

Valentine’s Day earliest roots come from a Roman festival called Lupercalia. It took place in the middle of February – the start of their springtime. It is believed that as part of the celebration, boys drew names of girls from a box, and they would become boyfriend and girlfriend while the festival took place, and sometimes get married. As time went on, the Church decided to make the festival into a Christian celebration and a day to remember St. Valentine. Later on, people began to use St. Valentine’s name to convey their feelings toward those they loved.

Modern Valentine’s Day originated as a Western Christian feast day believed by many to specifically honor a priest named St. Valentine. He lived in Rome in the 3rd century AD. At that time, Emperor Claudius II of Rome had banned marriage. Valentine believed this was unfair to the people of Rome, and so arranged marriages in secret. Claudius later found out, put him in jail, and sentenced him to death. At the jail, he fell in love with the daughter of the jailer. When Valentine was taken to be killed on February 14th, he sent her a letter professing his lover for her and signed it, “from your Valentine.”

Valentine’s Day has evolved throughout the years – transitioning from a Roman festival to a Christian one, and then into a commercial holiday – and seems to represent different things to different people. Though many consider it to be a day to celebrate romantic love, many others also observe it as a day to show platonic love to family and friends.