The History of Valentine’s Day


Graphic By: Raina Burusnukul

Maryam Adnan, Writer




 Valentine’s Day gives people the perfect opportunity to express their affection for the ones they hold dear. However, this joyous holiday has a dark history.

The origin of Valentine’s Day comes from the Romans when Emperor Claudius II executed two men, both named Valentine, on Feb. 14 within different years of the third century. The Catholic Church honored their martyrdom with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

A martyr is someone who suffers persecution and death for advocating, renouncing, or refusing to reject or endorse a religious belief or other cause as demanded by an external party.

In the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the fifth century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. Lupercalia was a pastoral festival observed annually on Feb. 15 in Ancient Rome to purify the city, promote health, and bolster fertility. 

Around the same time, the Normans, descendants of Vikings, celebrated Galatin’s Day; with Galatin meaning “lover of women.” As the years went on, the holiday grew sweeter. Famous English poets, Chaucer and Shakespeare even romanticized the holiday in their work; garnering the holiday popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe.

Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World. The Industrial Revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century, and in 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo. company, began mass-producing Valentines. February has not been the same since.

This rich history led to the Valentine’s Day people recognize and cherish today. People celebrate this romantic day in various ways; many will break the bank by buying jewelry and flowers for their loved ones, some will celebrate in a SAD (Singles Awareness Day) way — dining alone and binging on self-gifted chocolates — while others find ways to make peace with singlehood in a society that pressures everyone to partner up.