Valentine’s day is undoubtedly the most romantic day of the year. It is, after all, dedicated to celebrating love.
While a great number of the population worldwide celebrate the holiday, not a lot of people are familiar with its origin.
The actual origin story of the holiday or the man behind the holiday is actually shrouded in mystery, legend and inaccuracies. While a lot is not known about the history of the holiday per se, here are few things about the holiday you might want to know
February 14th is the annual anniversary of the of the commemoration of Saint Valentine who is regarded by some as the Patron Saint of Love. However, the holiday wherein love is celebrated actually evolved from Lupercalia – an old traditional Roman Festival. Lupercalia was a fertility festival to the Roman god of agriculture – Faunus.
To start the festival, the priests would sacrifice a goat (for fertility) and a dog (for purification) to Remus and Romulus who are believed to be the founders of Rome. Then the priest would dip the goat’s hide into the sacrificial blood and go into the city and will gently slap the women with the hide as it was believed to make the women more fertile. After which the women would put their names in a big box or urn.
During the festival, the bachelors would draw out the names of women from the box or urn and the pair would then be partners for the festival and for the next year, this match usually led to marriage.
Lupercalia as a holiday was later outlawed and Valentine’s day was declared by Pope Gelasius in its stead.
The Man Behind The Name
Valentine is described, from an account from the 1400s, as a priest who had wed couples in secret after the Emperor had outlawed marriage because it was believed that single men made better soldiers than married men with wives and children. Of course, Valentine felt this was unfair and he took it upon himself to unite couples in secret matrimony. When the Emperor found out, Valentine was thrown in jail and sentenced to death. He was later beheaded by order of Emperor Claudius II around 270.A.D.
Why Is He Associated With Love?
What is more romantic than helping couples get married in secret? Dying for helping couples get married in secret, which can be interpreted as dying for love if you want. For this reason, he is considered the most romantic of saints and the representation of love worldwide.
St. Valentine Could be Two Different Men
The St. Valentine being celebrated today is actually a composite of two men, maybe. The first real candidate is the one describe above who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius II near Rome. The second candidate for the composite is Valentine – Bishop of Terni – who was also beheaded by Emperor Claudius II near Rome; but on the 14th of February 273.A.D. For the most part, both men are thought to be the same person because of the similarities and the closeness in their date of death; however, there is no confirmation to this.
His Skull Is Currently In Rome
His skull, which has been adorned with flowers is currently kept for display in Rome at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. His skeletal remains were excavated from a catacomb near Rome in the early 1800s.
As it is usually done, the remains were split and shared to reliquaries (where relics are kept) around the world. Other parts of his skeleton can be found in France, England, Czech Republic, Scotland and Ireland.
There Is A Good Chance This Was All Made Up By Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer is largely considered the Father of English Literature. He is also the father referred to as greatest English poet of the Middle Ages. He is also the first person to have ever acknowledged Valentine’s day. Before 1375, when Chaucer wrote his poem, there was no record of the holiday anywhere. In his poem – Parliament of Foules, he wrote “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh there to choose his mate,” referring to February 14th. The poem received widespread acclaim and is probably the true origin of the holiday of love.
Why Is Cupid The Mascot of The Holiday?
Believe it or not, Cupid is the Roman god of erotic love, desire, attraction and affection. He is also the son of the goddess of love – Venus and the god of war – Mars. The Latin translation of Cupid is ‘Amor’, which means love. Basically, he is the personification of love.