The History Behind Valentine’s Day!


By Joanna Kosinska

Claire Giesey, Staff Writer

We all know Valentine’s Day as a day to show your significant other how much you love and care for them. Some people even use this day to show the same love to their friends! In most places around the world, this holiday is celebrated. In multiple different ways, too! But there are questions as old as time; where did this holiday originate from? How was it originally celebrated? What are the weird, yet interesting traditions that might have died out over time? Well, fear not! For maybe, after knowing the history of this gift-giving holiday, you may get an idea or two of what to get for your sweetheart this year!


One of the oldest records of Valentine’s day recalls a tradition not even remembered as Valentine’s day! The old, Roman holiday known as Lupercalia was celebrated on the Ides of February, otherwise known as February 15th. Lupercalia was a fertility festival celebrated in honor of the god Faunus, otherwise known as the god of harvest, as well as Rome’s founders Romulus and Remus. During this festival, an order of Roman priests known as the Luperci would go to a sacred cave where the infant founders of Rome were fabled to be cared for by a female wolf. There, the priests would sacrifice a goat and a dog, for fertility and purification respectfully. After which, they would take strips of the goat’s hide dipped in the sacrificial blood and slap both women and their crop fields. It’s said it was supposed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Always count on Romans to have strangely interesting traditions, huh?


Though, that isn’t all for this celebration. Later on, a lottery would be held where young women put their names into a large urn, which men would pick from to be paired with the lovely young lady for the year. The couple then would be married to each other later on, truly capturing the spirit of Valentine’s Day. Sadly, though the holiday would survive through the popularity of Christianity, Pope Geliasus would later outlaw Lupercalia and replace it with Saint Valentine’s Day, later shortened to the day of love we know today. 


Speaking of Saint Valentine’s Day, it is also an obvious part of this romantic history. Most people know of Saint Valentine from this next story. During the third century, the emperor had discovered that apparently, single men made better soldiers than men with families and wives, leading to the outlaw of marriage for young men entirely. Valentine, obviously noticing this injustice, decided to become a hero of the ages. He proceeded to marry young lovers in secret, away from the prying eyes of the emperor. Sadly, this didn’t continue for long. The emperor soon discovered his actions and ordered that the saint of love be beheaded. Thankfully, the law was undone later on, allowing young lovers to celebrate their marriages freely and without fear of punishment.


There are other stories, though, behind Saint Valentine. One suggests that he helped Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, but was thrown in prison himself. There, he fell in love with the daughter of his jailor, who visited him while he was imprisoned. In what was believed to be the first valentine ever, he sent her a letter before he was put to death, in which he signed “from your Valentine.” I believe it would have been a final, romantic goodbye based on the context of being executed. 


Though both Saint Valentine and Lupercalia were very romantic, belief-based ideas behind the day of love, there’s a more scientific belief stemming from the middle ages in England and France. Back then, people believed that the mating season for birds started on February 14th, which enabled the idea that the day should be celebrated as a day of love. Of course, while this is in no way true, there are multiple references to this in poems from the old ages. 


Through centuries of human history, February 14th has almost always been a day to be celebrated. Whether for the gods, fertility, a saint, or even the beginning of a season of love for wildlife in the animal kingdom, history has given reasons for this day to be remembered for something romantic. So, even if you’re stressing about getting the best gift you can for your lover, or planning for a fun day out with friends to celebrate being free this year from a relationship, remember that you’re keeping a tradition alive. A tradition that has been celebrated for centuries for love, fertility, and unending sacrifice. Though, don’t take gift ideas from the Romans. I don’t think a girl would enjoy being smacked with bloody goat hide these days.


(Research behind this article can be found at, and their own article about Valentine’s Day.)