The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The History of Valentine’s Day

How the holiday came to be
The History of Valentines Day
original canva

There is a lot of mystery and speculation surrounding the popular holiday, Valentine’s Day, and how it became the popular holiday it is today.

There is one legend that Valentine was a Catholic priest in third-century Rome during a time when Emperor Claudius II outlawed the marriage of young men because he felt they were better soldiers without having a wife or kids. Valentine saw the injustice of the law and continued to perform marriages for couples, just in secret. When the emperor found out, he had Valentine beheaded. Some speculate that it wasn’t Valentine the priest, but Saint Valentine of Terni, a bishop, who was also beheaded by Emperor Claudius II. Although it is possible that they were the same person. Some say that while Valentine was imprisoned, he fell in love and sent the first ‘valentine’ while in jail. In the tale, he had signed his letter to her as “From your Valentine,” which is an expression many still use today. 

There is also speculation as to why Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February. Some believe that it’s on the anniversary of Valentine’s death/burial while others believe the Catholic church did it to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Lupercalia was celebrated in February and was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture. During the celebration, women would put their names in an urn for men to choose from. The couple would then be paired for the year, which usually ended in a marriage. Lupercalia was outlawed around the same time as Pope Gelasius I declared February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day.

It took a while for the day to officially be associated with love, but it gained a lot of popularity in the Middle Ages. By the middle of the 18th century, it was popular to exchange cards or small items to show your love to friends or lovers in all social classes. Technology made this easier as ready-to-use cards were mass-produced and postage rates decreased. In current-day America, about 145 million cards are exchanged on Valentine’s Day according to Hallmark.

So while some Americans are against Valentine’s Day, you can’t say that it doesn’t have some interesting history behind it.

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About the Contributor
Andrea Mistichelli, Media/Design Editor
I’m Andrea! I run The Chomp's Twitter: @GatorNewspaper. I enjoy reading, especially fantasy, and have danced at Tricia Sloan Dance Center for fifteen years and counting. Besides The Chomp, I am also involved in the French Club, NHS, and Gateway's Mentor Program.
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