The History of Valentine’s Day

Kayla Corless on Feb 8, 2023 1:00:00 PM


With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, displays of love and affection are soon to follow. As a day we recognize to show love for our spouses, family, and friends, Valentine’s Day has a rich history that dates back farther than many of us realize.

Much of the history behind Valentine’s Day appears to be purely speculation with no concrete information about what truly inspired the ‘Day of Love’. However, it is possible that the events that have surrounded February 14th throughout history have created the celebrations that we know of today.

Valentine’s Day celebrations date back as far as the 14th century. Valentine’s Day is named after St. Valentine; however, there appears to be no clear answer as to who St. Valentine actually is. Rather, St. Valentine can be credited to be based on two different men, both of whom are named Valentine. One of the Valentines, a man from Rome in the third century, is credited with marrying people despite Emperor Claudius II’s marital ban at the time. Valentine was later sentenced to his death on February 14th, around the year A.D. 270.

The second man named Valentine was caught helping Christians escape from a Roman prison, and was credited for writing the first valentine message. He finished his messages with the saying, “from your valentine.”

Different theories about why Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th have given reason for us to understand the date of the holiday, such as Valentine’s death on February 14th or the Christian church’s attempt to shift focus from Lupercalia- a Pagan holiday celebrated on February 15th. 

During the third century, the Christian church was spreading across Europe, attempting to share Christianity with as many people as possible. During the fifth century, Pope Gelasius outlawed Lupercalia and declared February 14th to be Valentine’s Day, when the holiday began to gain popularity. Valentine’s Day became synonymous with love, especially during the Middle Ages in England and France.

Around the 1400’s, Valentine’s Day had become widely celebrated. Written Valentines were a popular method of confessing one’s love for another. Valentine’s Day had become well-known throughout North America, Europe, and Australia during the 17th century, and by the 18th century, people began to give loved ones gifts of love and affection. It was not until the 1900s when messages printed on valentines cards were being distributed to make the process of writing valentines simpler and easier.

Featured on many of these valentines is Cupid, a cherub that is credited for making people fall in love. Cupid is a Roman God who is represented in Greek mythology as the God Eros. Since Valentine’s Day has roots in Roman history, which was often associated with and similar to Greek history and mythology, seeing the representation of Cupid/Eros in today’s celebrations is no surprise.


Who knew that Valentine’s Day had such a rich history? From all of us at CEWT, happy Valentine’s Day!



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