The Fascinating Origins Behind Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day has a dark past

Valentine’s Day wasn’t always about sweethearts and flowers.  This holiday has a dark past centered around 6th century B.C. and an annual pastoral festival in what is now Rome to cleanse the city of its demons around February 15.  Called Lupercalia, this festival represented blood sacrifice, random matchmaking and ending in wild coupling to protect the city against evil and insure fertility so it can prosper.

As time went by with the introduction of Christianity in Rome around 284 A.D., Lupercalia changed because of the actions of a Roman emperor, Claudius II, referred to as Claudius the Cruel.  This ruler was set on expanding the empire, which meant growing his armies with legions upon legions of soldiers.  Due to the influence of Christianity, the men felt more loyal to their wives and girlfriends and didn’t want to go off for years and leave the women behind.  Therefore, Claudius outlawed all marriages and engagements to keep the men in line.

However, there were lovers so strongly committed to each other that they begged one priest, Valentine, to secretly marry them.  Those good intentions soon cost him his freedom and eventually his head.  However, through the years of his imprisonment, Valentine is said to have become friends with the jailer’s daughter.  Before he marched off to his death, it was rumored that he handed her a note which read “From your Valentine.”

After his death, the church recognized his noble sacrifice and made him St. Valentine.

Yet, the pagan celebration of Lupercalia didn’t lose its momentum until 496 A.D. when Pope Gelasius ended it.  Instead, he set aside February 14 as the official day of romance in honor of St. Valentine and named it Valentine’s Day.


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