History of Valentines Day
holidays like Memorial Day and Mother's Day have very clear
origins and it is obvious what they are celebrating. Valentine's
day is a little more vague. Where does the idea of a Valentine's
day come from? How did this whole thing get started? Why does
the whole world choose to celebrate the entities called "love"
and "affections" on February 14 or each year?
The celebration of February 14 as a day for lovers has several
origins. Its historical legacy came from a series of customs
and historical events in the last few centuries of the Roman
Empire, between the first and fifth centuries A.D.
Ancient Romans actually believed that birds, particularly
lovebirds, began their mating season on February 14 of each
year. This was the sign of the coming of spring for the Romans,
and the ancient Romans therefore held a festival of fertility,
called Lupercalia, which honored the pagan pastoral god Lupercus,
on February 15 or each year.
As the Roman Empire declined, though, Christianity was on
the rise. By the third century A.D., Rome was ruled by Christian
Emporers. One of them, Cladius II, known as Cladius the Cruel,
was having trouble getting men to join his armies, called
fight in Rome's many wars. Cladius
believed men did not want to join the Legions because they
did not want to leave their loved ones. He reacted by voiding
and outlawing all marriages.
After this happened, a Christian priest named Valentine stepped
forward to fight Cladius and his ban on marriages. Valentine
secretly married couples, including couples involving soldiers,
against the Emporer's wishes for years. When Cladius found
out about this, he threw Valentine in jail and beheaded him
on February 14, 270 A.D.
It wasn't until a few hundred years later that the modern
idea of Valentine's Day began to develop though. The Roman
Catholic Church, wanting to eliminate all pagan forms of religion
in the Roman Empire, made valentine into a saint and created
a holiday on February 14, in his honor, to replace the Lupercalia
From those sordid beginnings, Valentine's Day developed into
the present day celebration, going from a festival for a beheaded
saint to billions of dollars in flowers
and candy to celebrate the lovers of the world.