For centuries, people have come to recognize February 14th as Valentine's Day. It is a day of love and romance, filled with red roses, sweets and chocolates, and little gifts and trinkets exchanged between lovers and friends. It's a rather cliche holiday that the world recognizes, but regardless, it is still enjoyed by millions of people worldwide.
However, many people have not known of its origins for as long as Valentine's Day has been around. One popular origin began in the Roman Empire when Saint Valentine defied Claudius II's decree that young men could not get married. Roman Emperor Claudius had come to believe that single young men came to make better soldiers for the army. Dear old Saint Valentine, however, wedded many young couples secretly, sparking a sense of hidden and forbidden romance from which Valentine's Day could have stemmed. Unfortunately for Saint Valentine, he was imprisoned and sent to be killed. Before his death, Valentine was said to have formed a close relationship with the jailer's daughter, in which he wrote in a letter "from your Valentine" (a common expression in today's society) in his last note to her before he died.
Another fun origin for Valentine's Day, again organized by a Saint named Valentine, is derived from the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Lupercalia is a celebration that recognizes Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and Romulus and Remus, the twin brothers who were raised by a she-wolf and just so happen to be Rome's founders. It is said that Saints, in this case, Saint Valentine, would go to the cave of Lupercalia, make animal sacrifices to the god, and dip the animal pets in the blood sacrifices. They would go around smacking women with bloody pets to promote fertility. Along with the celebration of Lupercalia, women would put their names into a jar, men would draw said names out of the jar and the couple would be paired together for a year, many of whom ended up getting married later on.
The romance behind Valentine's Day didn't become popular until later centuries. As society began to modernize animal sacrifices, name drawing became less popular, and the exchange of love notes and cards, along with sweets and flowers, became more socially recognizable and acceptable as human culture progressed. All in all, the official origins behind Valentine's Day are still unknown, but our few ideas for how it started are enough to keep the tradition of spreading love, fertility, and gift-giving, and it will for many years to come.
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