Learn all about the origin story of this day, which was originally a pagan holiday.
All over the world, couples, Christians and non-believers alike, join in this annual celebration of love. In fact, data has shown that this day is the second most celebrated event, the first, of course, being Christmas.
In this frenzy surrounding this special day, very few take the time to actually do any research on this holiday. To the majority who know little to nothing about this day, here is how it all started.
Many years ago, the people living in ancient Rome celebrated a Pagan fertility and purification festival.
This occasion was called Lupercalia, named after the fertility god Lupercus, also known as the protector of flocks against wolves.
The Romans celebrated this feast of Lupercalia from the 13 to February 15th. The name of the month, which originated from a Latin word, ‘Februare’, means purification.
According to Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder, practices during this feast included men whipping woman after sacrificing a goat and a dog.
He adds that they “were drunk. They were naked.”
The feast also included a matchmaking lottery, where young men coupled up with available women after picking their names from a jar. This coupling reportedly lasted throughout the entire celebration.
Eventually, Christianity (the Roman Catholic church) flipped the script by banning or reforming these pagan rituals.
In year 496AD, Pope Gelasius decided to replace the feast of Lupercalia with Valentine, a day set aside in honor of the Patron Saint of lovers.
This was after two men, coincidentally both were named Valentine, were executed by Emperor Claudius II on Feb. 14, according to National Public Radio. Their deaths happened on the same day in different years in the 3rd century A.D.
One of these Valentines was a young priest, who disobeyed Emperor Claudius’ order.
The emperor has decreed had stopped priests from performing wedding ceremonies because he wanted the men to serve the Roman army first before tying the knot.
Valentine’s disobedience led him to prison where he faced a death sentence. Historical accounts claim he fell in love with his jailer’s blind daughter who visited him regularly while he was in prison.
The records add that he healed her by restoring her eyesight. This miracle is said to have caused a positive change in his jailer’s faith.
The tradition of Valentine’s Day cards can also be traced to Saint Valentine, who wrote a letter to the jailer’s daughter that ended with “From Your Valentine.”
This note was the last thing he wrote before his death execution. His death and note began what is now as Valentine’s Day!