The History Of Valentine’s Day


Kaitlyn Espinola, Journalist

Every year on February 14, people all over the world celebrate Valentine’s Day. The beloved holiday is a day of showing your friends and loved ones you care for them. Traditional ways to do so are with flowers, heart-shaped chocolate boxes, hand letters, and more. Even if you don’t have a significant other to celebrate with, it can still be fun to learn about the unique history and traditions of the holiday.

The history of Valentine’s Day and the story of its patron saint, St. Valentine, is shrouded in mystery. One story states that Valentine served as a priest in 3rd century Rome. When Emperor Claudius decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine realized the injustice of the decree and performed the marriages anyway out of the belief everyone deserved to marry. When he was eventually sold out, the emperor ordered that he be put to death immediately. It was because of his actions people considered him to be the namesake of the holiday. 

Some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial. Originally the holiday started as a feast to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of St. Valentine. However, as time progressed, the day became associated with the affinity of love. People as early as the 1300s began writing love letters known as “valentines”. These letters were addressed to women or men they cared for or found attractive. Later on in the 1500s, people began including sweets such as chocolates and fruits along with their written valentines. The symbol of the heart, which is still commonly seen today on Valentine’s Day, came into existence as a symbol of divine love. Other typical Valentine’s Day greetings included a prized livestock animal, money, or a share of a homegrown crop. 

Today, some of these traditions are still in place. People still hand out valentines or sweets to friends and loved ones, and symbols such as the heart and cupid are still a common site to see on February 14th. While the holiday may not be as important like it was in the 13-17 hundreds, it is still an enjoyable way to spend time with those you love.