A Brief History of Valentines Day

Felix Barnaby, Editor In Chief

Valentine’s Day is a fundamental part of February. Everyone knows the modern holiday very well. Chocolates and flowers line shelves in stores, and every couple is making cheesy posts on the 14th. But not many people know the origins of this lovey-dovey day. 

Christian saint, St. Valentine, is said to be the cause of origin for the holiday. However, there are multiple Saints with the name Valentine or very similar, so therefore there is more than one origin story. One story about a St. Valentine tells of him defying Emperor Claudius II’s rule about young men marrying, and marrying lovers in secret. Another story tells of the saint freeing imprisoned Christians, including a young girl he fell in love with and sent notes to. (This is where “Valentines” being little love letters came from.) These tales add to the symbols of romance that this day is known for. 

What came before Valentine’s day, though, was the Pagan holiday of Lupercalia, which was a celebration of fertility. Christian officials ended up outlawing this holiday, and the feast day of Saint Valentine overshadowed it instead. However, the influence of Lupercalia is still very evident in the modern holiday. Other non-Christian influences include the use of the Roman god Cupid in a lot of Valentine’s imagery. The story of Cupid stems from the tale of the Greek god Eros, god of love. These stories are the origin of the holiday we know and love today, which was first declared in the 5th century by Pope Gelasius. 

Valentine’s day may be a very commercialized and cheesy holiday today, but it actually has a rich history influenced by many cultures. There are so many stories that influenced the creation of the holiday, many of which aren’t even discussed in this article. And although the holiday has changed a lot over time, the themes of love, romance, and fertility are still thriving to this day.  


History of valentine’s day – history. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-video