Rome with me through history

How Valentine’s Day got its start

by Amanda Nguyen, Staff Writer

Every February 14, in the United States and other places in the world, roses, assorted chocolates, and other gifts are given to and from loved ones. On this day, we are reminded by our significant other how much we are loved, and we in turn tell of our own affection for them. However, despite the popularity of the widely celebrated holiday, the history origin of Valentine’s day is covered in mystery.

February has been a celebrated month of romance dating back to ancient Roman times. The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints who are the inspiration for the day of love; The Bishop of Terni, Valentine, and Valentinus. Thought the other two have influenced the holiday, St Valentine is by far the biggest figure that Valentine’s day pulls from. One legend claims that St. Valentine was a priest who served in Rome during the third century. When Emperor Claudius the second decided that single men made better soldiers than those who had wives and a family, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine was adamant about the injustice of decree and chose to ignore Claudius and continue to marry young lovers in secret. When his actions were discovered, Claudius demanded Valentine be put to death. After his execution, the people of Rome began a celebration in his honor to commemorate his actions.

Other myths suggest that Valentine might have been killed for trying to help Christians escape persecution by the Romans. There are claims that  Valentine was imprisoned, and was visited by a young girl whom he had fallen in love with during his confinement.  Before his imminent death on February 14, it’s said that he wrote her a love letter that was signed ‘from your Valentine’.

By the middle ages, St. Valentine was known as one of the most popular saints in England and France for being a romantic and sympathetic figure. Valentine’s day first began being celebrated during the Middle ages.During this time period, people attended a banquet called the ‘feast of Lupercalia’ and displayed a small gesture of affection by giving flowers to their sweetheart to celebrate the day of love.

It wasn’t until 1913, when Hallmark Card Company manufactured the first Valentine’s day cards that the holiday was commercialized. Now, children are required to bring in enough candies and cards for their entire class, and people dating have to buy their significant other tokens of their love.

Though Valentine’s traditions have changed overtime, the basic ground of showing love to others has stayed the same over time. The tradition of giving flowers and sweet notes has spanned thousands of years, and shows that even though this holiday may have turned from a remembrance day to a commercially lucrative one, some things about the day of love will never change.