Valentine’s Day History

The history of Valentine’s Day is contentious and there are a few legends circulating as to why we celebrate love on February 14th. Let’s take a look at some of these peculiar legends and how they've contribued to the the history of Valentine's Day.

Saint Valentine
The legend of Saint Valentine takes us to the Roman Empire during the 3rd century. Emperor Claudius II passed a decree that soldiers were not allowed to marry, based on his belief that unmarried men made better soldiers. Enter Saint Valentine, a priest who defied Emperor Claudius and performed marriages for young couples. When Claudius discovered Saint Valentine’s secret doings, he ordered Saint Valentine to be put to death. It is said that he died on February 14th. Saint Pope Gelasius I commemorated February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day.

Lupercalia is another legend concerning the origin of Valentine’s Day that dates back to the days of the Roman Empire. Lupercalia, celebrated on February 15th, was a festival that brought people protection from wolves. During Lupercalia, young men would deliver blows to passersby with animal hides. These blows were said to be connected to fertility and therefore women sought out these blows. Perhaps this is where the phrase ‘being hit on’ originates from?

Springtime Is For Lovers
Another legend has it that springtime is a symbol of rejuvenation and fertility and is therefore linked to lovers.

Birds and Bees
There is another legend that turns to the natural world for its explanation of the origin of Valentine’s Day. This legend holds that birds choose their mate on February 14th and that the day has therefore become a testament to love.

Whatever legend you adhere to, have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Read our article on Valentine's Day customs!