Floral Occasions & Holidays

The History of Valentine’s Day

January 22, 2016

valentines-day-february-14thValentine’s Day is essentially the most romantic day of the year, but have you ever wondered why an entire day was dedicated to telling our loved ones how we feel? After all, you should be able to show your appreciation for someone every day of the year! Well, the truth is that Valentine’s Day wasn’t necessarily always about sending flowers, exchanging gifts and munching on some of the sweetest treats – here’s how it really all began.

Who Was St. Valentine?

Although three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus are recognized by the Catholic Church, one of the most popular Valentine’s Day legends is centered on the saint that was a Roman priest during the third century. At this particular time, history explains that there was an emperor named Claudius who felt that single men, rather than men who were married and/or had children, were better off as soldiers. As a result, Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for men, at which point saint Valentine stepped in to marry men and women despite the emperor’s ruling.

The Start of Valentine’s Day

After being caught by Emperor Claudius II, saint Valentine was sentenced to death around 270 A.D. Today, many believe that we now celebrate Valentine’s Day in February to honor the day the saint was put to rest. Others, however, suggest that it has something to do with the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, which was a fertility festival that was dedicated to the Roman God of agriculture and Romulus and Remus – Rome’s founders.

Lupercalia

So what exactly did Lupercalia entail? We’ll tell you! On February 15th, the Luperci – male priests – came together at the cave where legends say that Romulus and Remus were first cared for – by a she-wolf or lupa, no less. Here, they would perform a sacrifice (goats for fertility, dogs for purification) and then dip the goat’s hide into the sacrificial blood. How does this have anything to do with romance, you ask? Towards the end of the festival, women would place their name in a large container for men to pick from, at which point they would become a couple.

Modern Day Valentine’s Day

At the end of the fifth century, Pope Gelasius deemed February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day. However, it took some time for thoughts and talk of love to officially be associated with it. During the Middle Ages, people began offering Valentine’s Day greetings just like we do today! Here in the states, history suggests that hand-made valentines were likely introduced in the early 1700s.

Surprised at the real origin of Valentine’s Day? We were a little bit too! But now let’s get into the fun stuff – writing and giving out your Valentine’s Day cards! Need some inspiration to get started? We’ve got you covered – check out our Valentine’s Day message ideas here (link blog post of Valentine’s Day messages sent 12/22), as well as these Valentine’s Day quotes!