The History Behind Valentine’s Day

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Abigail Cayetano, Staff Writer

Roses are red, violets are blue, here’s an intriguing history lesson for you. Valentine’s Day is here, time for chocolates, flowers, gift cards and so much love or heartbreak for some. Today, the love-filled holiday is celebrated around the world. However, Valentine’s Day was not always a day of gift bearing, affection and public displays of love. In fact, the history of this love filled holiday can be quite morbid and can cause chills to some people.

 

The true beginning of Valentine’s Day isn’t known, but theories about how it all began exist. Some believe that the holiday is inspired by Lupercalia which was an ancient pagan festival that has been traced back to the sixth century B.C. During the festival, animals (dogs and goats) are sacrificed and the skin of the goat is used to whip women in an attempt to increase fertility. The women are then partnered with men in a lottery (names were in a bowl and chosen) and some of these matches ended in marriage.  Meanwhile others believe that valentine’s day is inspired by a priest located in Rome named Valentine in the third century who got sentenced to death for disobeying Emperor Claudius, secretly marrying couples so that men wouldn’t have to go to war. Whether or not this was Saint Valentine is unclear, some people say that it was, but according to History.com this was not St. Valentine. 

 

According to the Greeting Card Association (GCA) there are approximately 145 million cards sent each year for valentines day. The exchanging of these tokens of affection began in the middle of the 18th century and, since then, has been an everlasting tradition on Valentine’s Day. Of course in the 1700s there weren’t any factories to mass produce cards filled with loving words and sentiments. During those luddite times tokens of love were handwritten letters and even sketches. When the industrialism of the 1900s came around so did printed cards which came with positive and negative effects. Printing took away personalization and intimacy from valentines day cards, but also made things easier, more efficient, and the cards looked more professional and pretty. 

 

Truth be told, the practice of partners showing affection on this day goes as far back as the early centuries even before pencil and paper were invented. Since then, technological advancements have been made. Written poems turned into pre written hallmark cards and what was once a bloody tradition turned into a romantic one. The amount of money spent on valentine’s day reaches to billions of dollars and to think that no one knows exactly where this romanticism was birthed from is like celebrating a culture without knowing its roots. And yet, love is spreading every year and the appreciation of loved ones is shown.