Valentine’s Day is one of the most prominent dates of the yearly calendar but how many of us know the real origins of the romantic celebration?
The story begins with a Roman priest named Valentine under the rule of the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Claudius had decreed that it was illegal for young men to get married as he believed they performed better on the battlefield when they were unwed. However, for those young soldiers in love, Valentine was the one priest who took pity and carried out secret marriage ceremonies.
Of course, the Emperor eventually discovered what Valentine was up to and imprisoned him to wait for execution. The tradition of cards sent ‘From your Valentine’ is thought to originate from the letters he sent from prison to his own sweetheart. a
What is the significance of February 14th?
There is another story of the origin of Valentine’s Day and that it came from the taking over of the pagan festival Lupercalia by the Christians. Lupercalia was a pagan fertility festival in honour of the God of Agriculture and Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
This festival was always held on 15th February until it was banned by Pope Gelasius, who decided to shift the focus onto 14th February instead by naming it Valentine’s Day, the date he allegedly died.
So, the original fertility festival was of pagan origin and was simply rebranded by Christianity. Either way, when you think of Valentine’s Day, you most likely picture flowers, chocolates and romance, not martyred priests or pagan ceremonies! Thinking of proposing on the next Valentine’s Day? For stunning Solitaire Engagement Rings, visit https://www.comparethediamond.com/diamond-engagement-rings/solitaire
The festival of Lupercalia was a riotous affair it seems. Between 13th and 15th February every year, dogs and goats were sacrificed on an altar by the ‘brothers of the wolf’ as an offering to the Gods. The blood from the sacrifices was used to anoint the attendees and then wiped away with a cloth soaked in milk. A great feast would follow where folks would eat and drink too much. And if that wasn’t enough, once everyone had had a few, the ‘brothers of the wolf’ took the animal skins from the sacrifice, ran around naked with them and used them to smack people!
Today, it is far more common to send a card or gift your loved one a bunch of roses as opposed to smacking them with an animal skin! The tradition of sending a rose began in the Victorian era. It was favoured over sending a card, as it was considered signing your name was bad luck. Cards were still sent, some very beautiful and intricate ones. They just would not have been signed.