Valentine’s Day, a day that we either love or hate. But how did this well-known holiday come to be?
Celebrations similar to Valentine’s Day have existed for a long time. The Romans are credited with the first ever recorded celebration. In the middle of February (their official start of springtime), the Romans had a festival called “Lupercalia.” It is thought that during this festival boys would draw girls’ names from a box, and they would be a couple for the festival. This tradition often led to marriages between the two.
Now, this festival wasn’t the Valentine’s Day we know today. A lot like Christmas, Valentine’s Day was a production of the church wanting to make a pagan celebration into a Christian one. It was only by chance that they chose this to honor St. Valentine.
But, who was St. Valentine? There are multiple theories as to who this man actually was. The most common belief is he was from third century A.D. Rome. The emperor of the time, Claudius II, had banned marriage. He believed that married men were bad soldiers. Valentine was a priest who believed that this was unfair. He arranged marriages in secret. When Claudius found out, he sent Valentine to jail and sentenced him to death. In jail he fell in love with a woman believed to be the jailer’s daughter. When he was sent to death on Feb. 14, he sent a letter to her signed “From your Valentine,” a phrase still commonly used today.