The History of Valentine's Day
By Sahar Ali
Volume 3 Issue 3
February 24, 2023
Image provided by National Geographic Kids
Celebrated every year on February 14th, Valentine’s Day is when loved ones show their affection and receive flowers, candies, and gifts. Valentine’s Day is also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine. Thousands of people worldwide celebrate Valentine’s Day, but have you ever wondered about the history behind this Day full of love?
Valentine’s Day is assumed to have originated from the Roman festival of Lupercalia (which is celebrated during mid-February) due to the similarities of both celebrations. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I had forbidden Lupercalia and is thought to have replaced it with St. Valentine’s Day. However, until the 14th century, Valentine’s Day was not celebrated as a day of romance.
In the past, there have been many Christian martyrs named Valentine, but Valentine’s Day has most likely gotten its name from a priest who had been martyred by emperor Claudius II Gothicus around 270 CE. There are many legends about who Saint Valentine actually was and his backstory, which is why people cannot pinpoint the holiday’s true history.
In the 1500s, formal messages known as valentines started to appear. Commercially printed cards then started to show up by the late 1700s. During the mid-1800s, the first commercial valentines were printed in the United States. These valentines mostly portray the Roman god of love, known as Cupid. Additionally, hearts are depicted in valentines since they show emotion. Birds are also a huge symbol of Valentine’s Day because their mating season starts mid-February.
On Valentine’s Day, people will gift the people they love candy and flowers to show their affection. The most traditional Valentine’s Day gift are red roses since they symbolize beauty and