"Ancient Rome at Dawn" by Moon Man Mike is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Every year on February 14th people all over the world celebrate what we know as Valentine’s Day. What many don’t know are the holiday’s history and origin. People come together and have dinners, share candy, give romantic gifts, and show appreciation for their loved ones.
It is a time of joy, love, and sometimes it can be an emotional roller coaster. It is celebrated from kindergarten all the way through adulthood.
¨Nothing¨ said Hezekiah Saunders, a freshman at Reagan when asked about what he knew about the history of Valentine’s Day.
Most kids are introduced to the romantic holiday by their parents or once they start to attend preschool or elementary school. They might be given a teddy bear by their parents and/or receive candy, flowers, and gifts from their peers at school. Teachers don’t tell students about the history of the day, they just tell them that it is the day and they celebrate it.
The history of Valentine’s day is surrounded by mysteries, legends, and myths. There are three most popular saints named Valentine that the Catholic church recognized as the start of the holiday.
Valentine’s Day originated from Rome in the third century, but it wasn’t the holiday we know today. In fact, it wasn’t even a holiday until the middle ages.
One myth says that Valentine was a priest of Rome in the third century who illegally married young couples after the emperor deemed that young men could not marry because it made them better soldiers. Once the emperor found out about Valentine’s doings, he had him put to death.
Another myth suggests that Saint Valentine of Terni was the true namesake of the holiday. He was also put to death by the emperor of Rome in the third century because he continued to deny Christ and wanted to promote a love the empower did not permit.
Some stories say that Valentine was jailed for helping Romans escape harsh prisons. During his imprisonment, he fell in love with his jailer’s daughter who would visit him frequently. It is said that he sent her the first Valentine’s card ever and it read ¨ From your Valentine¨, a phrase that is still used today.
Lastly, some people believe that Valentine’s day was a day to commemorate his death. In this story, Valentine’s Day was paired with a Roman tradition called Lupercalia, in efforts to make it more Christian. Lupercalia was a Roman tradition that took place in the city of Rome and it was to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing fertility. This was later deemed un-Christian and was permanently canceled.
All the legends about the holiday are different, but they all suggest the same thing, that Valentine was a hero, very brave, and most importantly very romantic. Over time the meaning of the day changed as society changed, but the core values of the day stayed the same throughout time.
Valentine’s Day is also celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. In the 17th century, it became popular in Great Britain. By the middle 18th century it became common for friends and lovers to share small gifts and objects that showed appreciation.
By the 1900s printed cards replaced handwritten ones due to technological advancements. Americans began practicing the holiday around 1700.
Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrated worldwide and is the second most card selling holiday second only to Christmas. Happy Valentine’s Day!