A Valentine’s Day Story


“Valentine’s Day” by MSVG is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Bridjett Relken, Contributor

Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrated all over the world. But does anyone really know where it came from? Who started it? Or even when? With Valentine’s Day being a day to celebrate love, its backstory is very ironic. 

Even before the 15th century, there was a Roman festival in mid-February, during the thirteenth to the fifteenth, called Lupercalia. This festival celebrated the coming of spring and paired women with men through a name drawing. 

At Lupercalia there would be a game where the players would have to get from one side of the festival to the other. But, there was a huge twist. Not only did they have to race, but the players had to beat anything in their way with animal skin. This could be a tree, an animal, or even another person. As disgusting as this sounds, it hurt, too. 

During the rise of Christianity, people found this festival to be very unchristian. Soon, Lupercalia became outlawed and the founder of Valentine’s Day spoke up. There are a lot of myths about who St. Valentine is, but we do know that he is the one that changed Valentine’s Day. Since Lupercalia was being outlawed, St. Valentine thought that they should change the festival to celebrate with people. 

In 1381, Geoffrey Chaucer helped influence the modern parts of Valentine’s Day. I know what you’re thinking, this was about 640 years ago! How could it be modern? Well, Geoffrey Chaucer came up with songs, poems and even paintings to celebrate and show love for others, but it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that paper cards were made to share this day.

St. Valentine was believed to be a good person. He was a priest, helped solve Valentine’s Day, but he was arrested and dragged to his execution. Years after Valentine’s Day was known for sharing love, emperors in Rome discovered that St. Valentine was secretly marrying people. You might be asking: why was this a big deal? Why did he get in trouble? Well, this was because men didn’t want to join the military since they had strong connections to their wives and families. So, Emperor Claudius banned all marriages in Rome,and there was no excuse for the men to not want to join the military. However, St. Valentine disagreed with Claudius and continued to marry people. Later on, he was dragged to his death and beaten with clubs. His head was also cut off.