“The History of Valentine’s Day”

Stephanie Lynch, Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day has always been about chocolates, roses, and teddy bears.  Even if you don’t have a significant other, people can share this day with their friends.  The holiday is named after St. Valentine, who is a mystery, but this holiday hasn’t always been the holiday we know today.  Did you know Valentine’s Day’s origins are dark and morbid?  Many people assume for such a happy and giving holiday, the origins are just as happy.  But as you know, some things aren’t always as they seem.

The Romans were the cause for these dark origins.  On February 13th through the 15th, there was a Roman called Lupercalia.  Goats and dogs were sacrificed, and men whipped women with hides of animals.  Women got most of the pain and took the most damage.  They were whipped, hit, and worst of all, young men picked a woman’s name out of a jar and they were coupled for the rest of the festival.  This shows women were just toys to men during this feast.  The Romans also picked out the name for this holiday. Although there were several Christian martyrs named Valentine, Valentine’s Day may have taken its name from a priest who was martyred about 270 CE by the Roman emperor Claudius II Gothicus (Britannica).

Valentine’s Day was morbid and dark, but thankfully someone came to make it sweeter.  Famous poet and playwright William Shakespeare helped to mold Valentine’s Day into the happy, lovey dovey holiday we know today.  He mentioned it in Hamlet during a long speech by a character of the name Ophelia. Shakespeare’s works became famous in Britain and eventually spread throughout the world.  Handmade paper cards became popular and a tradition throughout the Middle Ages and beyond.  Hallmark Cards then became mass produced Valentines in 1913.

Thank goodness for Shakespeare! Without his contributions, who knows how we would be keeping the Roman tradition alive? Would there still be the slaughter of innocent dogs and goats? Would it be a large, intoxicated feast? Even with the dark origins of Valentine’s Day, we can still celebrate and be happy with the people we love.  So keep up the lovey dovey, Godiva and Hallmark sponsored holiday by telling your loved ones how appreciated they are!