History of Valentine’s Day

By Ros Avila

Saint Valentine’s Day began February 14th, 496 A.D in Rome. Pope Galasius I, started the Feast of Saint Valentine’s Day as a celebration of love, romance, and commemoration of Saint Valentine. Saint Valentine was a priest who helped couples get married in secret because the emperor made it illegal to get married. The emperor found out about Valentine’s actions and had him arrested and executed. 

Some people believe that Valentine’s Day is also an offshoot of Lupercalia. Lupercalia is an ancient Roman purification ceremony that promoted health and fertility; it was celebrated on February 15th. One of its rituals started off by single men sacrificing goats and dogs, then single women’s clothes were removed and the man whipped them with the skins of the sacrificed animals. Then the men picked the women by random and the woman they chose was theirs for the day. The festival was originally known as Februa (which means “purification”), and its name, of course, became the name of the month in which the festival occurred.

Lupercalia ritual

Modern day Valentine’s Day customs like sending greeting cards, candy, & flowers developed in early modern England and spread throughout the English-speaking world in the 1800s.