The History of Valentine’s Day


Kylie Wood, Staff Writer

Although many Broomfield students celebrate Valentine’s Day, be it with a significant other, friends, or family, most don’t know how the holiday originated.

Valentine’s Day has its origins in a Pre-Roman holiday called Lupercalia, a celebration of fertility, cleansing, and the coming of Spring, which is celebrated in mid-February. The rites involved an animal sacrifice and running around in special clothing–pretty different from the modern-day Valentine’s we know.

So how did Valentine’s as we know it come about? The celebration was adopted by Pope Gelasius the first at the end of the fifth century, and renamed ‘Valentine’s Day,’ or ‘St. Valentine’s Day.’ Even though, there is dissension on who, exactly, St. Valentine was.

Some historians argue that the name Valentine comes from a martyred Christian priest from about 270CE who wrote a love letter to his jailer’s daughter and signed it ‘from your Valentine.’ Others think that it came from the bishop St. Valentine of Terni, Italy, and still others believe it came from the legend of St. Valentine who married couples during wartime.
But where did the symbols of Valentine’s Day come from? The hearts, the arrows? Why do people send each other ‘valentines?’

Well, the tradition of sending each other cards to show appreciation most likely originated in Germany with friendship cards, or Freundschaftskarten, originally a New Year’s tradition. As for the hearts, it came to be associated with Valentine’s Day in the 14th and 15th century through popular poems and art– essentially, somebody’s art went viral and now we associate hearts and love. The arrows go all the way back to Lupercalia, where Cupid was honored as the Roman god of love and often depicted with a bow and arrows.

Valentine’s day has a long and complicated history, dating further back than many would expect, and its origins are far more global and diverse than its Christian-given name. But no matter where it came from, Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate the ones you love.