Love-filled Holiday has a not-so-lovely Origin


As thoughts for the next February 14 surface, everyone waits in anticipation to see if they have a secret admirer, to bring them roses or a stuffed bear from that special someone. While present day traditions involve gift exchanges from partners and friends, the origins of this love filled holiday were actually very different.

Similar to the identity of a secret valentine, the beginning of this holiday remains a mystery. However, there are many stories that explain the beginning of Valentine’s Day.

According to Roman Emperor Claudius II (214 A.D. – 270 A.D.) banned marriage because he thought men made better soldiers if they had no wife or family, but Saint Valentine, a Roman Priest, continued to marry young couples secretly. says the story goes Saint Valentine’s story is that he was arrested and put to death for defying Claudius II. While Valentine imprisoned and waiting to be executed, he fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. The day that he was executed, February 14 (there is no specific year but it is believed to be between the years 269 A.D. and 278 A.D.) she received a letter from him that was signed, “From your Valentine”. claimed that in another part of ancient Roman times ( A.D. 270) a less romantic tradition tied to Valentine’s Day, animals were sacrificed and the hides of the slaughtered animals were used to whip the women in town on Valentine’s Day. This was a widely accepted and encouraged tradition because it was believed to make the women more fertile. After the whipping, men drew a woman’s name from a jar and the two were to be in a relationship for a year which often lead to marriage.

The term “wearing your heart on your sleeve” actually comes from this roman holiday. When the men pulled the names from the jars, they would wear the selected name on the sleeve of their shirt for a week.

Thanks to Shakespeare and Chaucer, the holiday took on a more romantic meaning. These two iconic writers connected Valentine’s Day to the idea of love and new life. Valentine’s Day traded in the animal sacrifices and executions for flowers and chocolates.

While the beginning of Valentine’s Day still remains a mystery, one thing is for sure, the holiday has nothing like. Next February 14, hopefully that special someone will give you  roses, candy, a card, a bear, or just a sweet note and leave the old traditions of Valentine’s Day in the past.

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