History of Valentines Day

A Valentines Day picture with a red heart.

Orange Umbrella Co.

A Valentine’s Day picture with a red heart.

Caroline Kerns, Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day is on Feb. 14, where people all over the world exchange chocolates, candy, cards and gifts with their loved ones. However, the origins of this popular holiday are very interesting. 

While some people think that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in February to remember St. Valentine, who died around A.D. 270. Others claim that the Christian church decided to place Valentine’s Day in February to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Lupercalia is a fertility festival that takes place on Feb. 15, the day after Valentine’s Day. Lupercalia is a festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture. 

Nobody is sure which St. Valentine’s the holiday is named after. Saint Valentine of Terni had been secretly officiating weddings for Roman soldiers against the emperor’s wishes, so this made him an “advocate for love,” and people looked up to him and saw him as a hero. Another St. Valentine was killed for attempting to help Christians escape prison in Rome, and it is thought that he actually sent the first “valentine” message himself while in prison, writing a letter signed “From your Valentine.”

It was commonly believed that Feb. 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to people’s ideas that Valentine’s Day was a day to celebrate love and romance.  The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to record St. Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic celebration in his poem “Parliament of Foules,” writing, “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”

Present day Valentine’s Day kick started in 1910, when the company Hallmark started distributing their famous Valentine’s Day cards. However, Valentine’s products started to be mass produced in the 1840’s, from a woman named Esther A. Howland. Howland is credited with commercializing Valentine’s Day, and is remembered for her elaborate cards made with lace and ribbon. 

Although the history of the national holiday has different points of views and we may never know how Valentine’s Day really originated, Valentine’s Day is a fun holiday to spend with your friends, family and loved ones.