The History of Valentine’s Day



A Valentine's Day heart background

Elena Parraz, Staff Reporter

Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrated by giving gifts usually between lovers or between friends. On this day you typically get chocolates, flowers, stuffed animals and cards. Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the 14th of this month but where did this holiday begin? 

According to an article posted by Good House Keeping, historians believe Valentine’s Day originated from a Roman festival called Lupercalia. This festival scarified animals and whipped the women with the animal skins. The women would put their names in jars and be randomly paired with a man. This is obviously and thankfully not how Valentine’s Day is, so how did we get to the present day holiday? Well according to the article by History this festival was banned when Christianity started to spread and Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as St. Valentines Day. This day would end up being associated with love because it was believed to be the mating season for birds. From there the holiday changed and evolved as time went on. In the 1840’s is when the holiday truly formed into what we know now. The first Valentine’s Day cards were mass produced by Esther A. Howland. She is known as the “Mother of the American Valentine” and is the one who commercialized Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is a pretty big deal nowadays, 55% of Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day according to Good House Keeping. In the same article it is said that Americans spend an estimated $19.6 billion a year plus $1.8 billion on candy alone! However in Latin American countries Valentine’s Day is different and is called el día de los enamorados (day of lovers) or día del amor y la amistad (day of love and friendship). While they do share chocolates and flowers this holiday is more about showing gratitude to friends. In Japan it is also different, women are the ones to give sweets to the men in their lives on this day.

Have you ever wondered why the name Valentine, well it was said to have belonged to two or three people. These people are spread throughout history and were thought to have ‘inspired’ this holiday. The most common Valentine story is Saint Valentine who went against Emperor Claudius II when he banned marriages. Emperor Claudius II banned marriage because he thought it distracted the soldiers. Valentine disagreed with what the Emperor said and  secretly married couples until he was caught and sentenced to death.

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Whether you do or don’t have a good February 14th, go out and buy/enjoy some candy (even if it is for yourself).