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The Mysterious Origins Of Valentine’s Day

7 Feb
The Mysterious Origins Of Valentine's Day

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Valentines’ Day

Thanks to the Discovery and History Channels, I’m pretty much obsessed with finding out the origin and history of things. So I thought, Why not write a post about the origins of St. Valentine’s Day? It turns out that the history of Valentine’s Day is abstruse and is made more confusing by the various legends surrounding its origins.

Some authors claim that the holiday’s roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility commemoration celebrated annually on February 15. The pagan festival of Lupercalia is one of the oldest holidays, and perhaps that is why some of the details of its rituals have been lost. It is said a goat was sacrificed and the hide of the animal was cut into strips, which were later used as whips. Young men would strip naked or wear elaborate masks (made from  goats’ heads) and run around whipping young women.

Lupercalia

The ritual was to ensure fertility. Striking the women may have represented penetration. The symbolic penetration, broken skin, made by a piece of a fertility symbol (the goat), was apparently thought to be effective.  Each man would also draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year. Pope Gelasius I re-formed this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day.

 

There were three St. Valentines mentioned by the martyrologies of the Roman Catholic Church, and it’s not clear which one the day is honoring.

 

According to legend, one of the Valentine martyrs was beheaded on February 14th for secretly performing illegal Christian marriages for soldiers. Supposedly, the Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade this in order to expand his army, believing that married men did not make good soldiers.

 

St. Valentine theoretically wore a purple amethyst ring, which was customary for Christian bishops, with an image of Cupid engraved in it, a recognizable symbol associated with love that was legal under the Roman Empire. Roman soldiers would recognize the ring and ask him to perform the marriage ceremony for them. Possibly because of the connection with St. Valentine, amethyst has become the birthstone of February, and it is thought to attract love.

 

Legend states that St. Valentine cut hearts from parchments and gave them to the soldiers to remind them of their vows and God’s love, a possible source of the common use of hearts on St. Valentine’s Day.

 

Also according to legend, St. Valentine miraculously cured his jailer’s  daughter, Julia, of blindness. On the evening before Valentine was beheaded, he wrote Julia the very first ‘Valentine’ card himself, signing it ‘your Valentine’. Hence, modern Valentine letters later adopted the expression ‘From your Valentine’. I don’t know about you, but I feel there’s a passionate romance story in there somewhere. Anyway, that’s what I’ve pieced together as the history/legend of Valentine’s Day.

 

Here are some interesting facts regarding Valentine’s Day:

 

* A recent poll found that 1 in 10 young adults admitted to feeling lonely, insecure, depressed, or unwanted on Valentine’s Day.

 

* 40% of people have negative feelings toward Valentine’s Day.

 

* Penicillin, a popular treatment for venereal diseases such as syphilis, was introduced to the world on February 14, 1929.

 

* The phrase ‘sweets for the sweet’ is a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Do you have negative feelings about Valentine’s Day? How do you feel about the Holiday?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

48 Responses to “The Mysterious Origins Of Valentine’s Day”

  1. Michelle Stanley February 7, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Hello Vashti, I learned a lot about Valentine’s Day from your wonderful article. I agree with you that there is a romantic story connected to the jailer’s daughter. Your article and overall presentation is very nice.

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 7, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

      Thank you Michelle! I’m glad you learned something new today. Yes! I think it would make for a juicy Romance novel. 😉

      Like

  2. Yolanda Isabel Regueira Marin February 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    Great background knowledge Vashti. Like Christmas, Easter etc. it has become another commercial holiday which is sad. But upon saying that it is fun to celebrate the spirit of love. I do agree though that for many who are alone it can be a disheartening experience watching couples celebrating together, a reminder of what they do not have.

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

      I completely agree with you Yolanda. Valentine’s Day has been commercialized, but like you said, it is fun celebrating love and friendship.

      Like

  3. Teagan Kearney February 7, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    Really enjoyed the article, Vashti, fascinating to read the historical origins and then think about how we celebrate it today.
    I like how you keep your blog fresh covering lots of varied topics. PS Great photos!

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 7, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

      Hi Teag! Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Don’t those gifs just make you want to grab someone and kiss them? Ha,ha! 😉

      Like

  4. Sunni Morris February 7, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    Interesting article. I’m also one to be curious about things I don’t know and always interested in learning something new. Many of the holidays we celebrate today started out as pagan festivals.

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 7, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

      Yes sunni, I’ve come to realize that. Isn’t strange that many Christian holidays have their origins in pagan ones? I don’t get it.

      Like

  5. Zee February 7, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    As Yolanda mentioned, what is now a commercial celebration has such a rich history – violent, yes, but interesting nonetheless! Thank you for sharing your research with us.

    The only opinion I have of Valentine’s Day is cheesiness lol. My parents got married on Valentine’s Day, and I told them it’s not gonna happen with me :p

    To me, Valentine’s Day is just another day. Whether I’m single or in a relationship, it’s kinda cute, I guess, but has no meaning for me.

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 7, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

      Hi Zee! It is kind of cute, but do we really need a day to remind couples or friends that they love each other? 😉

      Like

      • Zee February 8, 2014 at 12:09 am #

        I wholeheartedly answer – nope! We should express our appreciation every day 🙂

        Like

      • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

        That’s it Zee! The keywords being ‘every day’. 😉

        Like

  6. Alana Munro - The Author Who Supports February 7, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    Loving your educational articles Vashti. 🙂 I don’t like all the pressure Valentines puts on couples. It seems a bit too showy and too commercial. I also think couples should try to be romantic all year round and not just on the 14th. Sure if you are in a relationship, share some wine and celebrate your love privately if that’s what you want to do. That’s cool. But seeing all these couples crammed into a busy restaurant just because it is the 14th is a bit bizarre. I had a boyfriend who went nuts at valentines, it was all for show. He would send me flowers, teddies, chocolates…I guess some gals love all that attention but for me personally it got a bit overwhelming. Gentlemen, treat your ladies well all year round and use your imagination. 🙂

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

      Thank you Alana! 😀 I agree, there’s a lot of pressure on couples and singles as well. You’re also right about it all being for show. Why not demonstrate your love to your spouse or friend throughout the year?

      Like

  7. jorobinson176 February 7, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    Had to look up “abstruse” – LOL! Those Romans put 50 Shades under the table. 😀

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 8, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

      I did too the first time I came across it, but it’s a beautiful word so I kept it in mind to use when the opportunity arose. 😉 Ha,ha,ha! Good one! 😀

      Like

  8. Rat February 8, 2014 at 12:03 am #

    Some interesting piece of information piled up together here, Vashti. nice article on Valentine’s day. 🙂

    Like

  9. WholeHearted Home Judith Kowles February 9, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    I am always interested in how some of these holidays had their origins. No need to throw the day out because we celebrate a bit differently. Valentines Day is a good day to let my husband know that I love him (again) and that I am thankful to be married to him. Thanks, Vashti.

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 9, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

      Hello Judith! That is so sweet! I hope your husband reciprocates in the same manner. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 😀

      Like

  10. Stacey Gannett (This Momma's Ramblings) February 10, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    What a great bunch of tidbits, Vashti! I am personally not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, and oddly feel most of those things with the holiday. I think partly due to my birthday being the following week, which creates its own set of issues! LOL! We don’t really do a whole lot for it, this year I think the plan is to go and grab some Arby’s and call it a night! Thanks for linking up with This Momma’s Meandering Mondays! Hope you have an amazing week!

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 10, 2014 at 11:33 am #

      I know what you mean Stacey. The holidays are beginning to lose their appeal to me too. They’ve become too commercialized. It was a pleasure as usual to link up with you at ‘Meandering Mondays’. You have a fantastic week too!

      Like

  11. Harliqueen February 10, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Great post, very interesting, not many people talk about the origins of Valentine’s. I’m currently single, but have no negative feelings towards it, I just look at it as an excuse to eat chocolate, even if I buy it myself! 😀

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 10, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      Thank you very much! 😀 You have a great attitude. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day of love and friendship. It’s not necessarily a day for couples. So have fun and eat chocolate. 😉

      Like

  12. Sandra February 10, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    Thanks for sharing on The Four Seasons Blog Hop! Sandra from Scrumptilicious 4 You!

    Like

  13. JESS44903 February 10, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

    What an interesting post!

    Thanks for joining the Link Up this week!

    Like

  14. Brittnei Washington February 11, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    This was a very interesting read! So many things come from “pagan” and Catholicism. We honestly don’t make a big deal of Valentine’s Day, probably for no particular reason. As my kids get older I will most likely have a study on its origins and we will leave it at that. Thanks so much for sharing this with us at Countdown in Style! Don’t forget to stop by Friday to see if you are featured! xo

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 11, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

      Hi Brittnei! Thank you. Yes, as I’ve delved into the origins of holidays I’ve learned that many do stem from ancient pagan celebrations. Who knew?

      Like

  15. Heather Smith {Woods of Bell Trees} February 12, 2014 at 4:16 am #

    I am so glad we don’t celebrate Valentine’s that way! I don’t know how I feel about Valentine’s, we don’t do much with it, but when we go out the night before and I see men buying flowers for their lady I get a little sad even though I am married. I say that, but it the holiday doesn’t mean much to me; so I guess I am torn. Ha!

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 12, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

      I think a lot of people feel the way you do. The holiday has become so commercialized that it has lost it’s true value. What you probably long for is for your hubby to be a little more romantic. Don’t we all! 😉

      Like

  16. April February 12, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    I enjoy Vday to a point. I love the celebration of love ~ all love. I especially like having my son as my valentine! Thank you for linking up and sharing with Countdown in Style. Please come back on Friday to see if you were featured.

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 12, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

      I’m with you April! The celebration of love and it doesn’t have to be celebrated just one day a year. Awww! Have a happy Valentine’s Day with your little man. 😀

      Like

  17. Holly February 12, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

    I love Valentine’s Day now, but admittedly struggled with it as a tween/teen. Those years are so full of insecurities as it is so years when I did not have a BF were a little sad. Looking back, I really wish I would have focused more on my wonderful friendships at that time of year.

    This was a well put together piece and I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you so much for sharing! And now my husband and I are off to Disneyland to celebrate this year’s Valentine’s Day together!! 😀

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

      Hi Holly! I’m sorry to hear (read) about your sad times as a tween/teen. I was pretty insecure then too. Flash-forward to the present and you’re one luck lady! Woo-hoo! Valentine’s Day at Disneyland with your loved one–that’s awesome! Have a great time! 😀

      Like

  18. alexiskrystina February 13, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Very informative! I also love finding out the origins of holidays and traditions 🙂 Thanks for linking up at Countdown in Style! 🙂

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 13, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

      Hello! I’m glad I’m not the only one! It was my pleasure linking up. 😉

      Like

  19. Joy @ Yesterfood February 14, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    My favorite is the penicillin part! 🙂

    People do get depressed around holidays….Valentine’s (“Everyone else is in love and has someone special”), Christmas (“Everyone else is having a Norman Rockwell Christmas and I’m not”), etc. A therapist friend of mine once said, “Don’t compare your insides with someone else’s outsides”. See poem Richard Cory.

    Thank you for sharing your post with Treasure Box Tuesday, Vashti! Always thought-provoking! 🙂

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 14, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

      Hello Joy! “Don’t compare your insides with someone else’s outsides.” That’s brilliant. Words to live by for sure. You’re very welcome. It was my pleasure. 😀

      Like

  20. Jenny February 14, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    Good read! I will share this with my family. This is yet another Pagan Holiday that has become out of control. It’s amazing how many people celebrate the vasts of these holidays without knowing the history behind it. The majority tends to just go with what they have been accustom to. Above all, we should be loving and giving all year around, not when society tells us to (its all marketing). Thank you!

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 14, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

      You’re right Jenny, we should be loving and giving all year round. Thank YOU for stopping by and for leaving us with your wisdom. 🙂

      Like

  21. Antionette Blake February 16, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    Yes, I’ve read and heard many stories about the origin of Valentine’s Day – all very interesting, regardless, I hope yours was nice.. Thank you for sharing and linking up with us at the #WWDParty. Have a great week.

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 17, 2014 at 12:16 am #

      Thank you Antionette. I had a fun Valentine’s Day with friends. I hope your day was good too and have a great week!

      Like

  22. livingwithshadows February 17, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    wonderful! this brought back good memories as the very first article i wrote for the little newspaper i worked for was on the origins of valentines day, and then i had to go out as sell all the advertising space to local restaurants, florisits, sweet shops, etc. that was very scary!

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 17, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

      Hello! Thank you! What a happy coincidence! Phew. That does sound (read) like a lot of scary responsibility. I’ll look forward to reading some of your new articles.

      Like

  23. heidi February 17, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    This was really interesting to read. Stopping by from Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party.

    Like

    • Vashti Quiroz-Vega February 17, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

      Hello Heidi! Thanks for stopping by and for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. 🙂

      Like

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