How Did Valentine's Day Originate?

How Did Valentine's Day Originate?

Valentine's Day today is a worldwide phenomenon – straddling continents, cutting across cultures and relocating traditional beliefs. Just simply, it has the world in its grip – love does make the world go round! But, did you know that this celebration of love and romance has its genesis in a rather macabre event? No? Then, read on …

Saint Valentine

Fanciful legends surround the origin of Valentine's Day, adding to its mystique. But the one that seems to have the most acceptance is that this day was actually the martyrdom day of Saint Valentine. He was a fearless Christian priest who dared to challenge a mighty Roman Emperor, way back in the 3rd century AD

Saint Valentine was a priest in the empire of Claudius II. The latter had sounded the death knell for young lovers and married couples with a rather procedural decree. Fearing that loyalty to their families would supersede loyalty towards the empire, and then leave him with an impoverished army, Claudius II ordered that every marriage and engagement in Rome be declared null and void.

Since when has love bowed down to dictates and threats? Valentine, (it would be a few centuries before he would be canonised), feeling sorry for the sight of the young men and women – and uncaring for his own safety – secretly married hundred of couples. It was not long before the news of this 'treachery' reached Claudius. Enraged at being that defied, he thread the hapless Valentine into the dungeons and ordered to have him executed. It was in his cold and dingy prison that love and hope entered Valentine's life. The gaol keeper's daughter befriended him and it is believed that he, too, reciprocated her feelings. Just before he was led away to be beheaded, he wrote her a hastily scribbled note, singed as 'from your valentine'. The date was 14th February, 270 AD

Valentine's death did not go in vain. His courageous act spurred lovers down the centuries to celebrate his martyrdom day as the day to express love for the one they secretly liked and liked. And, although more than seventeen hundred years have passed, the custom of exchanging love and friendship messages on 14th February each year has ended! Later, Saint Valentine became the Patron Saint of this date!

However, believe it or not, there were no less than three Saint Valentines in early Christian history, all of what were martyred on 14th February! Neverheless, scholars are unanimous in believing that the Saint Valentine of the Valentine's Day is the one who attracted the wrath of Claudius II. A tragic tale that has now spawned generations of love-stuck men and women!


According to another theory, Valentine's Day can also trace its roots to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia. It was annually celebrated on 15th February in honor of the Roman God of fertility, Lupercus. The festivals took place near the cave of Lupercal, where legend has it that Romulus and Romus were found suckling a she-wolf. Like most Roman festivals, Lupercalia was characterized by boisterous merirement, animal sacrifices and whippings.

Pope Gelasius

Till 496 AD Valentine's Day was steeped in 'pagan' Roman practices before it assumed a more sober demeanour. By then, Christianity was the reigning religion of Rome. Before long, Pope Gelasius I declared that, henceforth, 14th February would be observed as a Christian feast day.

Geoffrey Chaucer

Centuries passed. Valentine's Day may well have continued as a rather serious occasion, limited only to the clergy, had it not been for Geoffrey Chaucer. For the first time, the idea of ​​romantic love was injected into the hitherto sombre festival when Chaucer penned a few romantic versa for this day in the 14th century. His rationale was simple. Since this was also the day when even birds selected their life-long mates, Saint Valentine's Day should be observed as the day to honor true love!

The wheel had turned a full circle. What had begun as a defiant gesture honoring love and commitment, once again paved the way for hundreds of Cupid-stuck men and women. As love burst on the scene, the floodgates seemed to have opened! Those in love, on the brink of love or those wishing to renew their love – all happily started observing 14th February as the day when one's heart's desires could be freely expressed.

Valentine's Day became the red-letter day on the calendar of all those in love!

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