Imagine you are preparing for Valentine’s Day. How do you go about it? Do you buy your loved ones chocolate, flowers, or other sweet gifts? Do you handwrite a card or buy one? Chances are, you use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to express how much you care.
However, Valentine’s Day wasn’t always this way. It was once much less lovey-dovey, and it dates back all the way to ancient Rome in the form of a holiday called Lupercalia. This was a festival that celebrated such things as love, spring, and fertility. And although this may seem awfully pleasant, I assure you there’s more to this day than meets the eye.
During this holiday, the ancient priests would sacrifice a goat and make their way around the border of the city carrying goatskin and flesh that had been soaked in blood. On their way, they would make sure to tap any women they came across with the disgusting skin. Oddly enough, the women not only allowed this but welcomed it. The ancient Romans believed it would help ensure fertility in the women.
The women of Rome would also write their name down on a piece of paper and set it inside an urn. From there, each bachelor would draw a name and spend the year with the woman whose name they drew.
Another inspiration for our modern day Valentine’s Day comes from the middle ages in France and England. The ritual continued for the people of France and England when it came to the name drawing. Much like in Rome, the eligible men would draw the names of eligible women and spend the year with them. However, the men of France and England took it one step further, by drawing a heart on their sleeve. Which is supposedly where the phrase, “Wearing your heart on your sleeve” comes from.
There is one more thing that our modern day celebration draws inspiration from, however, it is simply a legend. This legend states that in the 3rd century, the Roman Emperor Claudius ll thought that marriage wasn’t good during times of war because it encouraged men to stay home with their wives as opposed to fighting in the war. However, a Christian priest named Valentine felt sympathy for the couples and married them in secret. When it was found out that Valentine was deliberately going against the law to marry these couples, Emperor Claudius threw him in jail and executed him on February the 14th (Valentine’s Day).
However, before he was executed, Valentine became close friends with his jailer’s daughter. He wrote her a letter before he was killed, signing it ‘From your Valentine’. In my opinion, a beautiful way to go.
So now that you are aware of the origins of this holiday, you can spend your time on future Valentine’s Day however you please. Just remember that today’s Valentine’s Day is different than in the past, and is a happy time you should use to show how much you care about those around you.