Valentine’s Day: a day dedicated to love, friendship and the joys of life. Though everyone enjoys this special day, even those without a significant other to spend it with, the holiday has a bit of a darker history behind it.
There is no one consistent story to describe the history of Valentine’s Day, as the origin of the holiday is something that historians still find themselves disagreeing on. However, there are certainly some general truths to the story behind this day of love. So before you finish your shopping for candy and flowers, continue reading to gain more knowledge on how these traditions began!
Valentine’s Day, though it may have a confusing origin story, was primarily implemented to honor two men that were executed by Emperor Claudius II. Why were these men honored and associated with love? It is believed that one of the martyrs, Saint Valentine of Terni, had been officiating weddings in secret and against the wishes of the emperor. These acts not only elected him into sainthood, but is the basis of a holiday primarily concerned with undying love and commitment. The idea of writing and receiving valentines themselves aligns with this story, as it is thought that St. Valentine had written a note before his passing to a girl that he fell in love with.
There are additional stories surrounding the birth of Valentine’s Day, but these tend to be followed and believed less closely. A portion of this story that seemingly lines up with its popularity in ancient Roman times is Shakespeare’s work towards making the holiday more widely recognized. This makes a great deal of sense, considering so many of his famed works surround the ideas of love and communion, though they often have a more tragic twist. Love letters became a popular form of romantic communication, which eventually led to the commercialization of Valentine’s Day. From there, the holiday became more and more intrinsic to primarily American culture, as Valentine’s Day soon became a primary stimulant for the economy.
Though there is certainly lots of confusion surrounding the origins of the holiday, it is certainly true that it has become intrinsic to the month of February for many. For those without significant others, it is a day of celebrating other forms of love, such as with family and friends. So no matter what form of the holiday you partake in, remind yourself of these interesting and twisted origins: right before purchasing all the flowers and candy you could possibly need!