The History of Valentine’s Day, and Why We Celebrate

Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day might be related to romance, yet the beginning of the occasion isn’t by and large heartfelt. Here is the historical backdrop of Valentine’s Day you may not know in addition to when Valentine’s Day 2022 is so you can prepare.

Regardless of whether you love Valentine’s Day or disdain it, one thing’s reasonable: Valentine’s Day history goes way back. And keeping in mind that Valentine’s Day is presently known for kissing, Valentine’s Day gifts and difficult-to-eat reservations, the beginnings of the occasion are undeniably less heartfelt. Here, the Valentine’s Day history that wouldn’t make it into a romantic comedy, including a holy person, a slaughter, and surprisingly the evil nuns of Valentine’s Day (truly!).

When is Valentine’s Day?

First, a quick refresher: Valentine’s Day always falls on February 14. Valentine’s Day 2022 is Monday, February 14, and Valentine’s Day 2021 fell on a Sunday. (For those wanting to make big plans, Valentine’s Day 2023 will be Tuesday, February 14.)

At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day, and since then, February 14th has been a day of celebration—though it was generally more religious or romantic.

How did Valentine’s Day start?

Valentine’s Day is a decent day on the schedule that got lumped into a mid-February occasion on the antiquated Roman schedule called Lupercalia-which a few antiquarians accept as the thing that prompted Valentine’s Day to be about affection. Lupercalia praised richness and may have remembered a custom for what people were combined off by picking names from a container. In Ancient Greece, individuals noticed a mid-winter festivity for the marriage of the god Zeus and the goddess Hera.

Who was Saint Valentine? (And what does he have to do with chocolate hearts?)

Not much, it turns out. Saint Valentine’s Day was a feast day in the Catholic religion, added to the liturgical calendar around 500 AD. The day was commemorated for martyred saints named—you guessed it—Valentine. Differing legends celebrate three different saints called Valentine or Valentinus, but since very little was known about these men and there were conflicting reports of the Saint Valentine Day story, the feast day was removed from the Christian liturgical calendar in 1969.

But even though not much is known about the real history of Saint Valentine’s on whom the holiday is based, the legend of Saint Valentine has several tellings. One legend says that Saint Valentine refused to convert to paganism and was executed by Roman Emperor Claudius II. Prior to his death, he was able to miraculously heal the daughter of his jailer, who then converted to Christianity along with his family. Another legend says a bishop called Saint Valentine of Terni is the true namesake of the holiday; this Saint Valentine was also executed.

But according to others—and this is how Saint Valentine became affiliated with a love-focused holiday—Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who performed weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry, because of a Roman emperor edict decreeing married soldiers did not make good warriors and thus young men could not marry. This Saint Valentine wore a ring with a Cupid on it—a symbol of love—that helped soldiers recognize him. And, in a precursor to greeting cards, he handed out paper hearts to remind Christians of their love for God.

Because of this legend, St. Valentine became known as the patron saint of love. The Saint Valentine prayer asks Saint Valentine to connect lovers together, so that two become one, and the couple remembers their devotion to God.

While the Saint Valentine story set the groundwork for establishing the day as a holiday for romantic love, what truly solidified the connection between Saint Valentine and love was a poem by medieval author Geoffrey Chaucer in 1381, which historians consider the origin of the “modern” celebration of Valentine’s Day, where we celebrate our romantic partnership with one other person.

Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Chaucer lived in the Middle Ages, the period of dignified love, when wide, heartfelt articulations of commitment sonnets, melodies, canvases praised the organization. Before the finish of the fifteenth century, “valentine” was being utilized to depict a sweetheart in sonnets and tunes of the day, and in the eighteenth century, a book called The Young Man’s Valentine Writer was distributed in England. By the mid-nineteenth century, efficiently manufactured paper Valentine’s Cards were being made (however DIY Valentine card thoughts are as yet worth difficult), and Valentine’s Day as far as we might be concerned was conceived.

The truth about Valentine’s Day history is that the romantic holiday isn’t immune to tragedy. In Prohibition Chicago in 1929, seven men were killed by a gang organized by Al Capone on February 14. The Valentine’s Day Massacre became a flashpoint in Prohibition history, with police and lawmakers going after the gangs and mobs that had formed in cities to control then-illegal substances like alcohol.

What is the meaning of Valentine’s Day?

Over the years (and centuries), Valentine’s Day has been a religious celebration, an ancient ritual day, and a commercial holiday. All that change means the meaning of Valentine’s Day is truly whatever you want it to be: You can skip the celebrations completely, buy yourself some chocolate or flowers, or express your love and appreciation for the people in your life, whether they’re co-workers, romantic partners, friends, or family members. Some people love Valentine’s Day, and some people just love to hate it; Galentine’s Day is a relatively new way to celebrate, as women celebrate their love for their closest friends.

To celebrate the day of love however you want, even if it’s just through self-love. A nice dinner out, going to the movies, cooking a fancy meal at home, or hosting Valentine’s Day party are also great ways to celebrate.


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