THe History Behind Valentine’s Day

Emily Bunker

On February 14, people all around the world gather to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Flowers, chocolate, and other copious amounts of gifts are exchanged between loved ones. Within this happy love fill day no one ever stops to think about the dark history behind it. 

The history of this sappy love filled day is cloudy.

Some stories have to do with the Christian figure St. Valentine. It is said that he performed secret marriages to young couples after Emperor Claudius II outlawed men to be married. The emperor felt that the men would make better soldiers if they didn’t have any attachment to a significant other. 

Valentine was allegedly put to death for his ceremonies, but his legacy lives on to this day. 

Another story is about a bishop named St. Valentine of Terni, whom Emperor Claudius II beheaded during his persecution of Christians. 

Since the Emperor was so salty about Christianity, there is another version of our Valentine’s Day. This one says that Roman prisoner called Valentine was jailed for attempting to help Christians escape the harsh conditions of prison. According to this theory, he sent the first valentine after falling in love with a girl who visited him behind bars. Afterward, he gained quite the reputation throughout the Middle Ages as a romantic hero.

The poet Chaucer in the Middle Ages was the first to link St. Valentine with romantic love. This was the beginning of the tradition of courtly love, a ritual of expressing love and admiration, usually in secret. This custom spread throughout Europe and stories grew about a High Court of Love where female judges would rule on issues related to love on the 14th of February each year. Historians believe that these meetings were in fact gatherings where people read love poetry and played games of flirtation. 

So, whether you’re alone on Valentines day, or with someone you love, just remember that if someone hadn’t died, this day wouldn’t exist. 

 

Citations

“What Your Boyfriend Really Wants For Valentines Day: Dating Blog.” Scarlet Wonderland, 20 Apr. 2018, scarletwonderland.com/what-to-get-your-boyfriend-valentines-day/.

Natale, Nicol. “Valentine’s Day Actually Has a Really Complicated History.” Yahoo!, Yahoo!, 6 Feb. 2020, www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/valentines-day-actually-really-complicated-164600391.html?scrlybrkr=813a7075.

“Valentine’s Day 14 February.” Roses Only, www.rosesonly.com.au/what-is-valentines-day.