The Origins of Valentines Day- there’s more to it than you think!

Valentines Day is about more than soppy romantic gestures and the celebration of love. The origins of the holiday are a bit dark and twisted, and a little bit obscure! We all love a good mystery, right? Well, although nobody has ever been able to exact the point of origin, we can at least trace the holiday back to Ancient Rome!

When in Rome…

The Feast of Lupercalia took place between the 13th and 14th February, where men sacrificed goats and dogs, and then whipped women with the hides of the slaughtered animals. Don’t think they realised that ‘hitting on women’ wasn’t meant in the literal sense. But, this didn’t stop women queuing up to be hit by these drunken, naked, romantic Romans, under the belief that the tradition would make them fertile.

As if that wasn’t romantic enough, a match-making lottery decided how men and women would be paired up. Men would pick a name of a woman from a jar, and this would determine that they would be coupled up for at least the duration of the celebrations. Of course, if the match was right, the couple would stay together after the festivities.

On a different note, Emperor Claudius II executed two men by the name of Valentine on February 14th in the 3rd Century. Their martyrdom was honoured and celebrated by the Catholic Church through the recognition of St Valentines Day.

To make things more complicated, St Valentines Day was later combined with Lupercalia by Pope Gelasius, who used the celebration to expel Pagan rituals. But this was mainly theatrical, and compiled of drunken antics, fertility and love.

Romanticising Valentines Day

Shakespeare and Chaucer, amongst many, romanticised the day in their works. Since then, popularity has grown and tokens of card and gift exchange has taken root. February has not been the same ever since.

Valentines Day is a huge day commercially, with sales growing every year! You book a table at your favourite restaurant. You’ll send flowers and cards. Remember to buy their favourite wine. Don’t forget the chocolates. Did you remember the gift wrap? Buy, buy, buy.

The Romans may not have had it quite right… but do we? Is Valentines Day all about money now? If that’s the case, shouldn’t it be more about genuine love. Commercial romance is getting in the way of what could be a lovely day.

How do you spend Valentines Day?

Do you exchange gifts, book time away, or just spend the time together? Have we lost the true meaning of love behind all the marketing and commercialism? Let us know what you think in the comments below!