Valentine’s Day Wasn’t Always So Romantic

The holiday celebrated by early Pagans and Catholics The holiday synonymous with love actually stems from a less romantic Roman pagan festival of love, the Feast of Lupercalia. You...

(Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/Netflix)

The holiday celebrated by early Pagans and Catholics

The holiday synonymous with love actually stems from a less romantic Roman pagan festival of love, the Feast of Lupercalia. You may already be familiar with Lupercalia with one of the Season 3 episodes of the Netflix series “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” but the episode left out some key details from the original Roman holiday.

The Romans would celebrate the feast of Lupercalia from February 13 to 15 in the 3rd century A.D. in which men would sacrifice animals that they believed would promote the fertility of women. Then for the duration of the festival men would choose a woman’s name from a jar in an old-school matchmaking lottery and some matches would actually result in finding their future spouse. This is the early inspiration for Valentine’s Day but the holiday lineage was actually started by Emporer Claudius II.

During the 3rd century A.D., Emporer Claudius II executed two men on February 14 of two different years and both men happened to be named Valentine. The Catholic Encyclopedia recognizes at least three Saint Valentines (all martyrs) under the date of February 14 with a bishop of Interamna (now known as Terni, Italy), a priest from Rome, and a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.

Around 270 A.D. a holy priest in Rome by the name of Valentine was executed by Emporer Claudius II for going against the emperor’s law against marriage. Under Claudius’ rule, Rome faced many wars, calling for the need to maintain a strong army but was unable to get soldiers to join his military.

Claudius believed that Roman men didn’t want to join his military due to the strong relationship the men had with their families and wives, with Claudius finding the only solution by banning all engagements and marriages. Valentine felt that Claudius was unjust and defied him by performing marriages for lovers in secret.

(Photo Source: brockbuilt.com)

Once Claudius discovered Valentine defying his law he had Valentine arrested, dragged before the Prefect of Rome, and was condemned to death that was carried out on February 14 roughly around 270 A.D. The Catholic Church honored their martyrdom with the celebration of Saint Valentine’s Day.

While Valentine was in jail, legend says that he left a goodbye note to the jailer’s daughter that befriended him and signed the farewell “From Your Valentine” which could be said to be the first Valentine’s Day card the holiday is synonymous for.

Pope Gelasius I wanted to expel pagan rituals in the 5th century combining the Feast of Lupercalia and St. Valentine’s Day, focusing on celebrating love and fertility. Normans also celebrated Galatin’s Day around the same time period celebrating the “lover of women.”

Though Valentine’s Day was loosely related to the Feast of Lupercalia, Pope Gelasius decided to end the celebration of the Feast of Lupercalia in 496 A.D. and declared February 14 as the holiday of St. Valentine’s Day.

A few centuries later during the 14th century, Chaucer and Shakespeare gained popularity through Europe and Britain when they started to romanticize the holiday. During the Middle Ages, handmade paper cards became more popular and transformed Valentine’s Day with the tradition of exchanging cards.

The card-exchange tradition made it’s way to America during the Industrial Revolution with the introduction of factory-made mass production cards. Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo. started mass producing Valentine’s Day cards in 1913 and the rest is history.

Follow @TwistityNews