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Posted 30/12/2022 in Article

The History of Valentine's Day

The History of Valentine's Day

Guest Author – Charlotte Riggs


Valentine’s Day has become a hugely loved celebration in our modern world, but it’s important to remember that this beloved event’s history is a little more complex than it might seem at the outset. Indeed, while we often assume that Valentine’s Day is a loveable and innocent celebration, the origins of this amazing celebration of love are much darker than one might realize! Still, this certainly makes for an intriguing story into the development of Valentine’s Day – and it’s safe to say that the event has come a long way in our modern world than its somewhat grisly origins!

The History of Valentine’s Day

The history of Valentine’s Day is a little hard to pinpoint, but it dates back to ancient Roman celebrations, which focused on increasing couples’ fertility by spanking young maidens with either goatskin or dogskin whips. It sounds creepy in this day and age, that’s for sure – not something we would recommend as part of your own Valentine’s Day celebrations!

Still, this ancient tradition definitely stood the test of time and would become a mainstay of Pagan culture, as well. Indeed, the Pagan celebration of Lupercalia was held annually on February 15th and became an incredibly popular event. The Lupercalia event focused on purifying the cities, and sacrifices were a common feature to the gods. Feasts were also incredibly common during this time.

When Was Valentine’s Day First Celebrated?

The first Lupercalia celebrations occurred during the Roman Empire and persisted until around the 2nd century AD. However, in the 5th century AD, things became a little different when the traditional St. Valentine’s Day was combined with the Pagan Lupercalia celebrations, when Pope Gelasius I banned pagan celebrations.

The themes of fertility and love persisted after the transition, as we still celebrate today. However, the change would mean that early Valentine’s Day celebrations became much more modest affairs. This meant that the presence of widespread nudity (as was common with Lupercalia!) was dissolved over the transition.

The Valentine’s celebrations would later be sweetened further by romanticized storytelling by individuals such as Shakespeare, contributing to the modern festivities we know and love.

Common Historical Valentine’s Day Gifts

Common historical Valentine’s Day gifts may have included very similar items to what we see today. These could include flowers, chocolates, and jewellery. However, poetry and love notes would have also been more common, and these would often have been incredibly ornate.

Final Thoughts

Though many of us around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day (or dismay its arrival for those who are single when the month rolls around!), the history of this event isn’t quite as clear-cut as it might seem. Indeed, Valentine’s Day has roots all the way back in Ancient Rome, but its earliest origins were less romanticized than they are today.

With that being said, the transition to our modern celebration of love is something that we’re incredibly thrilled happened. And so, whether you’re just looking to treat yourself or if you’d like to pamper a loved one instead, finding that perfect Valentine’s Day gift can mean a lot to everyone.

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