The Reason for Valentine’s Day

Marissa Pomales, Copy Editor

February 14th, otherwise known as Valentine’s Day, is a day where loved ones and romantic partners show their affection for one another through intimate gestures, in the name and ideals of St. Valentine. But what many might not know is that in past history, Valentine’s Day and what it now represents is vastly different than what it os named and how it is practiced.

In ancient Roman time, the Romans would partake in a feast and celebration that was named Lupercalia, where “the men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain,” said Arnie Seipel, a writer for NPR and the author of the article “The Dark Origins Of Valentine’s Day.”

The Lupercalia feast would continue by having young men get a lottery pick of a woman they would be paired with, then they would be allowed to have sexual and intimate relations with them for the time of the festival. The blood of a goat was meant to represent fertility and the blood of a dog was meant to represent purification.

The Roman holiday of fertility and purification later changed into a Christian holiday of freedom and love.

At around A.D. 270, Emperor Claudius II “decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret,” said A&E Television Networks in the article “St. Valentine Beheaded.”

Before the story of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” was ever known, there seemed to have already been one or more saints that believed and acted upon the freedom of people’s intimacy and free will.

For his actions towards helping the young men and women of that time period, Saint Valentine was thrown in jail and later executed for what he had done against the Emperor Claudius II. After St.Valentine’s death, the Christian church changed the holiday Lupercalia to what is is now known as “Valentine’s Day.”

Today, Valentine’s Day is for people to show their devotions of love with chocolate, jewelry and romantic date ideas. “And much like love itself, St. Valentine and his reputation as the patron saint of love are not matters of verifiable history, but of faith,” said Lisa Betel, author of “The Gory Origins of Valentine’s Day,” and author for the Smithsonian online magazine.

Much like how Valentine’s Day is mostly celebrated as a day for love and kind gestures to loved ones, and could still be known as a celebration of fertility and purification, Valentine’s Day will always be remembered for the courageous and unselfish acts of St. Valentine.