• Alyson Heisler

Editorial: The dark history of Valentine's Day

We often think of Valentine’s Day as a warm, fuzzy, romantic holiday to celebrate all the love in the world on one special day, but the day now ranks among the group of “Hallmark holidays” that have been commercialized beyond the need of the holiday’s purpose.


The exact origin of Valentine’s Day is unknown, but it’s loosely connected to the Roman feast of Lupercalia, according to NPR. During this festival, men sacrificed animals then whipped women with the hides of the sacrificed animals — certainly an interesting method of celebration.

If you’re wondering how couples became associated with Valentine’s Day, a tradition of a matchmaking lottery, where young men would draw the name of a woman from a jar, was also a part of Lupercalia. The couple would remain together during the festival, and hopefully their pairing would continue into the future.

The naming of Valentine’s Day is also due to the Romans — after two different men, both named Valentine, who were executed on Feb. 14 by Emperor Claudius II in the third century. Their lives were honored on St. Valentine’s Day, which became meshed with Lupercalia around the fifth century to “expel the pagan rituals” associated with the day.

Their efforts seem to have been effective — the pagans have been erased from holiday history once again. Confusing origins aside, Valentine’s Day is one of the many holidays with dark history lurking in its origins — the more you know, the more interesting your holiday celebrations can become.

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