Revisiting the History of Valentine’s Day

By: Bridgette Gourley

     Do you know the true meaning of Valentine’s Day? If you don’t, it first originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine. People celebrate Valentine’s Day in many ways. The Squire interviewed senior Maya Swanson to see how she and her family celebrate the holiday. If you want to know all about the history of Valentine’s Day, keep reading.

     The Squire asked Swanson shared with The Squire that her family Valentine traditions started when she was young, “When I was little, my mom use to do a Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt around the house for my brother and I.” People all over the world celebrate the holiday in many ways, with most people, giving their loved one gifts and candy. February has a long history of being celebrated as a month of romance.

     The Squire also asked Swanson about what she thinks “Valentine” means. Swanson said, “I don’t think a valentine has to be someone you are in a romantic relationship with. It could be someone you enjoy spending time with and love their company.” According to,  “Ancient stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine sent the first ‘Valentine’ greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl. Before his death he signed the letter with, ‘From your Valentine.'”

     Some people think Valentine’s Day, shouldn’t be a holiday or that it is just a holiday created to make stores money. The Squire asked Swanson if she thinks Valentine’s Day is a relevant holiday. She replied, “Yes, I think so because it’s such a lighthearted fun holiday in the middle of winter when it can be cold and dreary every day.” Valentine’s Day is a fun day to get out and show those you care about how much you love and appreciate them. Swanson described what she enjoys doing on the holiday sharing, “I like to spend time with the people I love and eat good food and desserts, specifically pink and heart shaped.”

     According to , long ago, they would celebrate Valentine’s Day by having a Pagen Festival. To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, who were founders of Rome were cared for by a she-wolf, Lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goats hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood. Then, they would take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

     This is one theory about how the word “Valentine” originated. The Squire wanted to interview someone who may celebrate or share Valentine’s Day in a different style. No matter how you celebrate this year, The Squire would like to wish you a ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’!

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