Valentine’s Day is a day to honor adoration, passion, and kissy-face fidelity. The history of this candy-and-cupids event, however, is actually murky, bloody, and dark.

Although the precise origin of the festival has not been established, one place to look is ancient Rome.

Roman Festivities Were Brutal

valentine s day story

Romans celebrated the Lupercalia festival from February 13 to February 15. The men beat women with the hides of the animals they had just killed after offering a goat and a dog as sacrifices.

Romantic idealists “they had been. In their bare state “Noel Lenski, who is currently a professor of religious studies at Yale University, said to NPR in 2011. According to Lenski, males would line up to hit young women. They thought this would increase their fertility.

A matchmaking lottery featuring young men drawing names of women from a jar was part of the harsh festival. After that, the couple would remain together for the length of the festival or longer if the match was good.

The name of our contemporary day of love might have originated with the ancient Romans. On different February 14s in different years of the third century, Emperor Claudius II put to death two individuals, both named Valentine. The Catholic Church recognized their martyrdom by observing St. Valentine’s Day in their honor.

The Holiday Changed as It Spread

valentine s day story

To get rid of the pagan customs, Pope Gelasius I later confused matters by mixing St. Valentine’s Day and Lupercalia in the fifth century. The festival, though, was more of a dramatic recreation of its former self. Lenski continued, “The Christians gave it new garments, but it was still more of a drunken party. It was nevertheless a day of fecundity and love despite that.”

The Normans also observed Galatin’s Day at the same time. Galatin was a term for “woman lover.” Because they sound similar, it’s possible that at some point that was mistaken for Saint Valentine’s Day.

The holiday got tastier over the years. Shakespeare and Chaucer idealized it in their works, which helped it become more well-known in Britain and the rest of Europe. In the Middle Ages, handmade paper cards started to become the in-thing.

The custom eventually spread to the New World. In the 19th century, factory-made cards were introduced thanks to the Industrial Revolution. And Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Missouri, started manufacturing valentines in bulk in 1913. Since then, February has not been the same.

How We Now Celebrate

The holiday is becoming a huge industry. But for many, that commercialization ruined the day. We are solely at fault, according to Rutgers University sociology professor Helen Fisher.

This isn’t a performance for a directive, she declared. If consumers didn’t want to purchase Hallmark cards, they wouldn’t, and the company would cease operations.

Valentine’s Day is still observed today in a variety of ways. Many people spend a fortune on flowers and jewelry for their loved ones. While some people will celebrate Singles Awareness Day (SAD) by dining alone and gorging on self-gifted chocolates, others will figure out how to accept being single in a culture that encourages pairing off.

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