The Origin of Valentine’s Day is actually very disturbing


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Valentine’s day was not always sweet with red hearts. The beginning of the holiday is surprisingly gruesome

It is that time of the month again where couples display their affection for each other ten times more than usual again. That’s right, it is almost February. February has always been associated with romance. According to the Dictionary, “Valentine’s Day is an annual holiday recognized around the world. It celebrates romantic love, making it a popular day for couples to spend together.”

Many people are not too fond of this holiday because they have no one to share it with as well. No one to say the L-word to. Then, just like that to become the Grinch of Valentine’s day. Some might find it unnecessary to have another day to spend money on their significant other. Take Psychology teacher, Richard Nyers specifically. He would break up with his girlfriend only on Valentine’s day just to avoid buying anything for the holiday.

Of course, there is a batch of people who love this holiday besides. What is there not to love? They just love love.

But now the question is, how did this celebration come to be for this reason?

There is no specific origin of the holiday but a calculated place to start is in ancient Rome, to illustrate. Valentine’s Day always falls on February 14. Valentine’s Day 2020 is Friday, February 14. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day, and since then, February 14 has been a day of celebration

Ancient Rome

From February 13 to 15 the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. Lupercalia was an annual festival to divert evil spirits and cleanse the city. Unlike Valentine’s Day, Lupercalia was a bloody, violent “celebration” surrounded by animal sacrifice. The men of Rome would whip the woman with the animals they sacrificed. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them. Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder says. They believed this would make them fertile. To make this even more disturbing, the men would put the woman’s names in a jar and randomly match them. They hoped this would ward off evil spirits and infertility.

The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men named Valentine each on Feb. 14 of different years. One Valentine was a theologian and teacher. During the third century, Valentinus was imprisoned for his Christian beliefs and sentenced to death.  The night before he died, Valentinus wrote a farewell note to a girl, which he signed, “From Your Valentine.”

His sentence was carried out the next day, Feb. 14, 269 A.D.

Around 498 A.D., Pope Gelasius declared Feb. 14 as St. Valentine’s Day. He did this to honor the martyr Valentinus and to end Pagan worship. This created the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. But this is not the red hearts and sweet candy Valentine’s we know today.

By the end of the 15th century, the word “valentine” was being used to describe a lover in poems and songs of the day, and in the 18th century, a book called The Young Man’s Valentine Writer was published in England.

Thank You, Shakespear

From the third century to the 17th century, Valentine’s day had morphed into a much gentler holiday. All thanks to Shakespear who romanticized it in his works. He mentions Saint Valentine’s Day in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (4.1.145) and in Hamlet. In which he alludes to the superstition that if two single people meet on the morning of Valentine’s Day they will get married. The following is the stanza in which Shakespear introduces Valentine’s day in Hamlet:

“To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.”

Hallmark Cards and Valentines

Handmade paper cards became a way to celebrate in the Middle Ages. The industrial revolution led to factory-made cards in the 19th century. Esther Howland of Massachusettes published the first American valentine in 1849. In 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., began mass producing valentines. There are 20.7 billion dollars spent as consumers buy cards and candy for friends, family, co-workers on Valentine’s day.


Some might think Valentine’s day is extra and unnecessary but to others, it is a time for love and appreciation for their significant other. Valentine’s day has modified immensely and been through a lot throughout the years. Whatever your opinion may be on this day of love, the fact of the matter is the origin was disturbing and creepy.


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