History of Valentine’s Day

By: Trisha Baldwin

With the arrival of February, along comes one of the most widely celebrated
holidays–Valentine’s Day. While many are familiar with the assorted chocolates, bouquets, and love letters associated with February 14th, the origins of the holiday and the extent to which it is celebrated are unknown. Given that the concept of Valentine’s Day dates back to the Roman Empire, it is understandable how there is no confirmed record of why Valentine’s day was created. However, historians have been able to piece together theories about how the holiday started.

One theory suggests that the word “Valentine” on Valentine’s day is inspired by a Catholic Saint, St. Valentine. He was a priest and was noted to have carried out marriages and preached a religion, which was illegal at the time. Due to this, he was condemned to house arrest and refused to deny his faith. During his time under house arrest, he allegedly fell in love with the jail tenant’s daughter and converted all of the members of the home to believe in God. When the Roman emperor heard about this, he ordered the Saint to be executed on February 14th. On the day of his scheduled death, he allegedly wrote a letter to the jailer’s daughter, with who he had fallen in love to say goodbye, signing it “from your Valentine.”

Given its origins in Catholicism, it makes sense why the United States is not the only country where Valentine’s Day is celebrated. However, not every country celebrates Valentine’s Day with the same traditions as the US. For instance, in Italy, young girls are to wake up before the sun rises in order to “glimpse their future husbands,” as it is thought that the first man a woman sees on Valentine’s Day will resemble her future lover. In other places, such
as South Africa, women pin a heart on their sleeves adorned with their lover’s name. Although Valentine’s is normally celebrated as a day, Romania celebrates it on two different days, and South Korea for 12 days. While theories of origin may differ by country and religion, the holiday is still celebrated around the world, with each country having its own signature rituals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *