From a lore and barbaric tradition to the most ‘love’ly holiday


Illustration depicting modern love: love in the time of corona.

We all know the facts- Valentines day occurs every February 14th when lovers across the world exchange sweets, cards, and gifts to honor Saint Valentine. But who was Saint Valentine? And was V-day always so ‘love’ly?
The popular lore of Valentine’s day tells the story of the imprisoned Saint Valentine, who was tried for execution in the 5th century A.D. The story goes that the jailer’s daughter took pity on Saint Valentine, and attempted to save him. To thank her, Valentine wrote her a note signed, “From your Valentine”.
This myth is proven false on many historical levels, as the jailer’s daughter would not have been literate nor would Saint Valentine have access to pen and paper to write the note. Furthermore, there are many accounts of other Saint Valentines throughout history.
Whoever Saint Valentine was, the fact remains true that he is a worshipped Saint. In Christianity, Saints are expected to perform holy duties in the afterlife. Saint Valentine is the patron of beekeeping, epilepsy, and famously, lovers.
Valentine’s day is said to have been the christianization of the Pagan holiday, Lupercalia, celebrated by Romans on February 15th. However, Lupercalia lacks all the romance that V-day has to offer, as it is described by historical accounts as nearly naked men hitting women in order to give them fertility.
The love that Valentine’s Day is notorious for is thanks to Geoffrey Chaucer, a poet in the Middle ages. In Chaucer’s c.1370s-1380s poem, “Parliament of Fowls”, Chauce writes “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird came there to choose his mate”. Inspired by “Parliament of Fowls,” by the 1800’s nobles began writing poems or ‘valentines’ to their love interests.
Due to COVID-19, there has been a decrease in sweethearts indulging in this spicy holiday, with just a little over half of the American population expected to celebrate this year compared to the normal 62%. Nonetheless, according to the National Retail Foundation, Valentines Day 2021 will generate a total of 21.8 billion dollars of gifts for romantic partners, friends, family and pets alike. With the 50 million pounds of chocolate, 36 million heart shaped boxes, and 150 million Valentines Day cards sold in the U.S during this sweet time, love is definitely in the air.
So get out there and make Saint Valentine proud by showing some love to everyone you care about (even if it’s just your dog)! And don’t forget that love isn’t the only thing in the air this Valentines Day.