A Quick History of Valentine’s Day

By Mac Bettersworth, Reporter

Today, Valentine’s Day is a day of love and kind gestures. Not many people know how the holiday truly started. 

Image result for st valentine
St. Valentine

One legend claims that the history starts with St. Valentine, a priest who was martyred around 210 CE by the emperor Claudius II. Claudius had decided that single men made better soldiers than married men, so he outlawed marriage of young men. 

Valentine defied the emperor and wed young couples in secret to spare the husbands from war. He was thrown in jail where he befriended the jailer’s daughter, writing her a letter signed “from your Valentine.” 

Other stories say that Valentine may have died attempting to help Christians escape from Roman prisons.

Another legend claims that the holiday comes from the Roman celebration of Lupercalia, the coming of spring. The name probably came from the Latin word lupus, meaning wolf. 

The celebration was conducted February 15 and held connection to the ancient deity who protected herds of livestock from wolves, along with the she-wolf that nursed Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. The ceremony started with the sacrifice of two goats and a dog. Two young men were led to an altar, their foreheads touched with the bloody knife, cleaned with a piece of wool dipped in milk.

Traditions have changed over the years, now including less gore and more flowers, chocolate, and cards. Valentine’s letters started being used in the 1500s and commercially printed cards appeared in the 1700s, usually depicting Cupid, Roman god of love.