The History of Valentine's Day

Love comes in all shapes and sizes. Love is universal. Love is intimate. Love can be private. Love is sweet. Love is soft. No matter how love shows up in your life, I hope your heart is full, and love surrounds you everyday. Today is Valentine’s Day, the one day of the year that we devote to celebrating love, friendships, and all those close and dear to us. Each year this day is often filled with  flowers, chocolates, romantic dinners, and expressive cards. Love is everywhere!

As Valentine’s Day approached this year, I was curious to know the history of Valentine’s Day, where and how it started. I am all for celebrating love, god knows the world needs more of it. As it turns out it has an interesting history, not all roses and chocolates, but interesting all the same.

The exact beginning of Valentine’s Day isn’t very clear, each country or region seems to have its own version of how Valentine’s day got its start.

The Italians believe that it all began in Rome, ahh, the city of love. The story goes something like this.  Valentine was a priest during the third century when Emperor Claudius II claimed that men were better soldiers when they were single. Marriage was outlawed in an effort to provide stronger soldiers. However, Valentine continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Claudius discovered what Valentine was doing he ordered that Valentine be put to death.

The first “valentine” is believed to have been sent during Valentine’s confinement, where he fell in love with his jailer’s daughter, who visited him. He wrote a message to her, and signed it, “your valentine”.

Some believe that Valentine was killed when he attempted to help Christian prisoners escape Roman prisons. And Valentine’s Day is a celebration to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial.

Others believe that Valentine’s Day started as St. Valentine’s feast, a celebration created by the Christian church to take the place of Lupercalia, a pagan holiday. Although Lupercalia was a celebration dedicated to fertility, some of the practices were questioned by the Christian community.

Priests would sacrifice a goat and strip the hide. Then they dipped the hide into the blood of the goat and a dog. Women would line up to be hit with the hides, believing that they would be more fertile afterwards.

Following this event, the young women of the city would place their names in an urn for the city’s bachelors to choose from. The couples would be matched for the remainder of the year, and the relationships would often end in marriage.

Pope Gelasius claimed the celebration was “un-Christian” so Valentine’s Day was established on February 14th to prevent Lupercalia from continuing. Hmm, not sure about this one but who knows.

Valentine’s Day continued to gain popularity, and by the middle of the 18th century, friends and lovers would exchange small gifts and handwritten notes. By 1900, printed cards replaced written letters.

The French believe that it all began in Normandy as they had a celebration called Galatins’ day which means “lover of women” and sounds a lot like Valentine…

Regardless of the exact history, Valentine’s day has always been about going to extra lengths for those you love. It’s a time to celebrate the feeling of love, for both lovers and friends. Love can be celebrated in many ways, and with many different people. You can exchange printed cards and eat at fancy restaurants, hit the town with the girls, or stay in and watch movies. Whatever you do just enjoy the celebration of love, love of self, and love of others. We’d love to hear how you love to celebrate love.

Cause after all, love is all there is!