The Origins of Valentine’s Day

Oh yes, Valentine’s Day. Some dread it, some look forward to it, and, I’m sure, some just don’t care. But, it seems nobody really knows its origin. “Where did this day come from? Who was Saint Valentine? Which Saint Valentine was actually Saint Valentine? Why is this something we celebrate?”, are all questions I asked myself while researching. After getting past my confusion on the matter, I got some answers.

From my research, I learned that Valentine’s Day is based on someone named Saint Valentine; nobody really knows which Saint Valentine, though. The most mentioned of them, though, was said to be a Roman priest who performed secret weddings, for Christian couples, against the church authorities’ permission. It’s said that he died in martyrdom, after being imprisoned for his crime, when he was killed by the Roman Emperor Claudius II on February 14th…known to us now as Valentine’s Day. One legend surrounding this Saint Valentine says that while he was imprisoned, he tutored his jailer’s daughter, Julia, who was blind. The story says that God restored Julia’s sight after they prayed together one night. And, on the eve of his execution, he signed a letter to Julia as “From your Valentine”. So, perhaps the saying “Be my Valentine” has a deeper meaning than we thought. 

Years later, a Roman pagan festival called Lupercalia was celebrated. This celebration commemorated the death of Saint Valentine and was held from February 13th to February 15th. It was much unlike the Valentine’s Day celebrations we know of today, though. According to, Lupercalia was a “bloody, violent and sexually-charged celebration awash with animal sacrifice, random matchmaking and coupling in the hopes of warding off evil spirits and infertility”.  The festival was celebrated to cleanse and purify the city from evil spirits and promote health and fertility. 

So, contrary to popular belief, this wasn’t a day created to give singles an excuse to eat ice cream and watch The Notebook, or stress boyfriends out over flowers, chocolates, and teddy bears. Valentine’s Day is a day of love. Whether it be platonic or romantic. So, this Friday, embrace love. Spend the day with your lover, friends, family, or just take care of yourself. And if “take care of yourself” means eat ice cream and watch The Notebook, go right ahead!