The not so romantic birth of Valentine’s Day

The most accurate tale concerning the origin of Valentine's Day is one derived from the celebration of Lupercalia, a historic Pagan festival still portrayed in museums across the globe.

ketrin1407, Taken on July 20, 2012, some rights reserved, http://bit.ly/2kCCB6J

The most accurate tale concerning the origin of Valentine's Day is one derived from the celebration of Lupercalia, a historic Pagan festival still portrayed in museums across the globe.

Valentine’s Day sales reached a total of 17.6 billion dollars last year and are estimated to reach 18.6 billion dollars this year alone.  This holiday provokes the exchange of around 150 million cards, being the second most popular card sending holiday, falling second only to Christmas.  It is apparent this celebration is not one to be taken lightly, regardless of its frilly colors and sentimental notions. However, it has become increasingly apparent that both the students and staff of Lambert High School are, in the majority, oblivious to the holiday’s origins. Valentine’s Day is defined as “February 14th observed in honor of St. Valentine and as a time for sending valentines.” The official definition of the holiday mentions St. Valentine, but still most people have little to no idea whom he is.

Lambert High School junior, Jacob Harris was unsure of the precise origin, taking his best guess and stating, “I would guess it began with the worship of some love god somewhere in Europe. It’s probably been around for a couple hundred years.” Harris was unsure of the precise origin, taking his best guess. Jordan Redmon, a social studies teacher at Lambert High School, claimed “I have no idea what its origins are. I would guess that it is a government invention to stimulate the economy. Career Tech teacher, Laura King, had a very similar response saying, “I am not aware of the origin of Valentine’s Day. If I were to guess, I would think that it has trickled down from the Greek Gods, Cupid, or something like that. I tend to think that it is more of a marketing, consumer generated holiday from a highly consuming culture.” Regardless of how intellectual their answers were, none of them were cognizant of the exact origin of the beloved holiday. Although there is no concrete origin, various legends circulate regarding its forthcoming into our current culture.

There are numerous legends regarding Saint Valentine and his association to this holiday. The first one claims that Saint Valentine was a priest in 3rd century Rome. Roman Emperor, Claudius II, declared that single men were superior soldiers to those with families or wives. His solution was to make marriage illegal for all young men. It is said that Saint Valentine defied Claudius and discreetly married young lovers. However, Claudius later discovered Saint Valentine’s actions and sentenced him to death. A similar legend declares that Saint Valentine was in prison for his actions and sent a letter to a young girl, whom he was madly in love with, signing it “from your valentine” prior to his death. Although, the truth behind Saint Valentine’s legacy is unclear, each legend depicts him as both a heroic and a romantic figure, causing him to become one of the most prominent saints amid the middle ages.

The most frequently believed and historically accurate origin is one referencing a celebration known as Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a pagan festival where Roman Priests would begin by gathering around a sacred cave on February 15th. These priests would sacrifice a goat for fertility and a dog for purification. They would strip the goat’s hides, dip them in sacrificial blood, and gently hit the women and crops with them. Roman women cherished this occurrence, convinced that the slapping would make them fertile during the upcoming year. Later that day, the women would place their names in a large urn. The Roman bachelors would each select a name and be paired with that woman. These matches oftentimes resulted in marriage. In the 5th century this festival was outlawed, being deemed “un-Christian”. As a tactic to suppress this Pagan celebration, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th to be St. Valentine’s Day. Later on, this day became affiliated with the concept of love.

The oldest known written valentine was penned by Duke Charles of Orleans in 1415. Duke Charles wrote a poem to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Later on, Shakespeare began to romanticize Valentine’s Day in his work, causing the holiday to attain popularity in both Britain and Europe. Beginning in the early 1700’s Esther A. Howland, known as the “mother of valentine”, sold the first mass produced valentines. In 1913, Hallmark began to mass produce Valentine’s Day cards in Kansas City, skyrocketing the holiday’s accumulating fame. As the Romans said, amor omnia vicit, otherwise known as, love conquers all.