Valentine’s Day: History and how it is celebrated today


With Valentine’s Day being today, many celebrate with heart-shaped candies, handwritten notes, and gifts and red and white colours on assorted things are flashed in stores. However, we have never stopped to wonder what the origins of this holiday are. The basics are known; Valentine’s Day is named after St. Valentine. According to history, there were more than one St. Valentine, and though the real origins of Valentine’s Day are still not known, the different Saints can elude to the history behind the celebration of this day.

The most popular tale is of Saint Valentine of Terni, who was executed as he had been officiating weddings for Roman soldiers against the rulings of the emperor. Making him a saint and advocate for forbidden love for centuries to come. Saint Valentine of Terni, was ordered to be executed by the Roman Empire, and during his last days, he cured the blind daughter of his Judge. Before his execution, he wrote a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.

Another explanation of why Valentine’s Day is commemorated is the pagan festival of Lupercalia, celebrated in the middle of February for centuries. The festival was known for its debauchery, pairing men and women and involving excessive amounts of wine. The festival involved strange traditions, including, randomly selecting names of men and women and made couples for the rest of the festival, or if the pair was successful, the rest of their lives. Other traditions involved customs with the blood of sacrificial animals, as they were thought to bring fertility. As the Roman Empire became more Christian, the holiday came to commemorating Saint Valentine but was still known for being a day to celebrate love.

Jack B. Oruch, a professor at the University of Kansas, has a different view. Based on his research, Oruch claims that the day isn’t even celebrated after a man named Valentine. Instead, Geoffrey Chaucer is the inspiration behind the holiday. Romans celebrated His saint’s day during the mid of February, as this was the time when bird started to mate and plants began blooming. Geoffrey Chaucer was a poet, depicting many poems of love. Since the name, Valentine was already common at the time and other saint’s names were less poetic and romantic, the day came to be known as Valentine’s Day, inspired by Chaucer. The classical tradition of exchanging cards and love letters began, followed by flowers, candy, jewelry and more.

Whether one values the history of Valentine’s Day or not, it has become a great deal for many cultures and people of all age groups around the world. Valentine’s Day is still known to be the ‘day of love’ and everyone, in some way is affected by the celebrations. For couples, it’s a day full of expectations of romantic gestures, often involving spending huge amounts of money because “its Valentine’s Day”.  Americans alone, spend an estimated $18.2 billion on Valentine’s Day celebrations, including flowers, candy, cards and dinners.

Valentine’s Day has also involved from celebrating romantic love to celebrating the love of various relationships, including parents, siblings, friends and even pets! Students of elementary and secondary schools exchange cards and candies. A mandatory “Happy Valentine’s Day” post is shared among friends and followers on social media. While adults spend more on dinners and expensive jewelry, teenagers also celebrate in unique ways. How will you be celebrating this Valentine’s Day?