Valentine’s Day is a holiday that is associated with love and while it might stem from this idea, its origins are still unclear.
The holiday, sometimes referred to as St. Valentine’s Day, is said to have originated from a saint, as the name suggests. However, there is conflict as to who the saint could be, as there are multiple saints known as Valentine or a similar name.
The most common belief is that the Saint Valentine in question was a priest in third-century Rome who defied a law saying young men couldn’t get married. He was said to marry people secretly. Once what he was doing was discovered, he was killed.
Another story about the origins of the holiday is that Valentine was killed for helping Christians get out of Roman prisons, while another claims he was imprisoned and sent love letters to someone, signing them “From your Valentine.”
Other stories about the namesake for the day vary, but the common theme is that he was a kind person with some sort of romantic influence.
A different take on the origins of Valentine’s Day is that it is the product of the Christianization of a pagan holiday.
Lupercalia, another mid-February festival, celebrated the Roman god of agriculture and the founders of Rome. It was an offshoot of Valentine’s Day where singles were paired up and sometimes ended up getting married to each other with the desire for fertility to ward off evil spirits.
People started celebrating Valentine’s Day as early as the Middle Ages, but written valentine messages weren’t seen until much later and the oldest existing valentine is a poem written in the early 1400s.
Today, people still give valentine notes, mostly in the form of mass-produced printed cards. Many people also go to dinner with their significant other and exchange gifts like flowers or chocolates.
People who aren’t in relationships often spend time with the important people in their lives, such as their family and friends.
Friends who don’t have partners often spend their Valentine’s Day together, as they’d rather spend the widely-celebrated day together than alone. They might celebrate by watching a movie together, getting food as a group or even just hanging out at home together, while some families will spend their Valentine’s Day together, making dinner and even exchanging candy.
When I was a kid, my parents often would get my brother and me some chocolate and even Valentine’s Day-themed gifts.
Other people might use the day to show themselves a little love. They might take some time to recuperate from the stresses of their lives by watching one of their favorite movies or treating themselves to their favorite food.
However you spend Valentine’s Day, it’s interesting to think about just how shrouded in mystery its origins are and how far it has progressed as a holiday.
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