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Valentine’s Day: History and Significance

February 14 is a holiday set aside to celebrate romantic love. It is marked by many people all over the world. It is full of gift-giving, flowers and chocolates depending on what you and your partner like. While many people join in its celebration, they may not know its origins, so we will be looking at where this centuries-old tradition began.

Valentine’s Day is believed to have originated from Ancient Rome when the feast of Lupercalia, a pagan deity, was celebrated from February 13 to February 15. Men would sacrifice a goat and a dog on these days, and women would be beaten with the skin of the sacrificed animals as it was believed to make them fertile.

During the festival, a matchmaking process would also be carried out; think of tinder but in ancient Rome. Men would pick out women’s names from a jar and couple up with them for the festival’s duration, sometimes longer.
However, it wasn’t until the 3rd century that Valentine’s Day got its name. Emperor Claudius II had banned marriage because he needed men to enlist in the army. When he learned that Saint Valentine was helping young couples wed, he threw him in prison and ordered him to be executed. The execution happened on February 14.

In the 5th century, the pagan festival of Lupercalia was stopped by Pope Gelasius, who then combined it with St. Valentine’s Day. Following the eradication of the pagan rituals, the celebrations became solely associated with love and intimacy. Many poets also made the Day famous by writing sweet things about love and romance.

As the tradition continued to grow, people exchanged gifts as a token of love. During the industrial revolution in the 19th century, the mass production of cards was made for the occasion. And thus, the celebration of Valentine’s Day with the exchange of cards and flowers was birthed.

It is primarily celebrated by couples and people who wish to express their feelings to a love interest. Couples go all out for each other, showering gifts and more. It is probably not the best day to be single, but it is not a holiday only couples can celebrate. St. Valentine, whom the holiday is named after, was a priest, sworn to celibacy and very single. So you don’t need a significant other to enjoy today; you can go on friendship or solo dates, stay in and watch movies that cater to this celebration.

Valentine’s Day is popular in the United States, Canada, Australia, Britain, South Korea, France, Nigeria, and other parts of the world.