The Origin of Valentine’s Day

Good morning. Today is Valentine’s Day and I thought I would share the origin of this holiday. It is always good to know what you are celebrating to decide if you, and your family, want to participate in such celebrations. I love the history of all things and that is something, aside from English, I desire to acquire a degree in.

Valentine’s Day was once a pagan Roman holiday celebrating the Lupercalia. This holiday was a fertility holiday dedicated to Faunus, who was the Roman god of agriculture, and the Roman founders Romulus and Remus. Below is a great description of the festival from History.com:

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

The Catholic Church then, as most holiday’s we celebrate, tried to stop the celebration of this pagan holiday and replace it with a holy celebration. It has been stated that they are celebrating St. Valentine and his heroic actions. As it turns out, there were 3 saints, that were martyred, but one in particular stood out as he assisted Christians by helping them escape Roman prisons and, there are conflicting reports, he would marry young men, although it was outlawed. Claudius, apparently, outlawed marriage for young men because they made better soldiers. Valentine still defied the law and continued to marry young men. He ended up in prison and fell in love with a young girl. This young girl would visit her father, which was his jailor, and St. Valentine wrote her a love letter before he was killed. He signed this love letter, “From your Valentine,” sound familiar? Valentine’s Day goes back as a day of romance since the Middle Ages.

Are you interested in the complete backstory? Find it at:

http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day

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