Happy Valentine’s Day! We all know February 14 is a day celebrated around the world to recognize the loved ones in our lives but who knows who Valentine actually was and why we have this day to celebrate at all? History.com was able to shed some light.
When did this holiday begin?
Long before Valentine’s Day was created, a pagan festival called Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15. This was a fertility festival that ended in a matchmaking service. In the 5th century, Lupercalia was outlawed for being “un-Christian.” It is believed that St. Valentine’s Day was created shortly thereafter by Pope Gelasius to draw popularity away from this pagan festival.
Who was St. Valentine?
There is no clear-cut answer. The Catholic Church recognizes 3 different, martyred saints named Valentine. Two of these Valentines are believed to be the source of the holiday. One was a priest in the 3rd century of Rome. Emperor Claudius II believed single men made better soldiers because they were not burdened and slowed with thoughts of their wives and families at home. Because of this, the Roman emperor outlawed all young men from being married. Valentine continued to perform marriages in secret until he was caught by the emperor and beheaded.
Another Valentine was St. Valentine of Terni. He was a bishop who was also beheaded by the same emperor. While awaiting his death in the Roman prisons, he is believed to have sent the very first Valentine to the jailor’s daughter. She visited him often and he had fallen in love with her. He signed his letter “From your Valentine” and the phrase is still used today!
Who is Cupid?
We all know Cupid has the naked cherub shooting arrows to make people fall in love. The Roman God, Cupid, derives from the Greek god of love, Eros. Eros was a handsome god who played with the emotions of both gods and mortal men. He used his golden arrows to make some fall into love and he used leaden arrows to make others fall out of love. He started to become portrayed by a chubby child during the Hellenistic Period.