The Dark History of Valentine’s Day


Haley Rael, Journalist

Valentine’s Day is a day that people use to show their love for one another. Whether it be by chocolates, cards, flowers, or maybe even stuffed animals. There are many different ways that people celebrate this holiday. However, few may know how this holiday evolved into the lovey-dovey holiday it is today. The origins of Valentine’s Day may be darker than many may expect. 


Valentine’s Day originated from traditions from both Christian and Roman traditions. One origin is the legend of St. Valentine. However, there were three saints named Valentine making multiple stories. According to’s article, History of Valentine’s Day, “One legend contends that Valentine was a priest …. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.” Another legend was, “…an imprisoned Valentine…sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl…who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed ‘From your Valentine’…”


Another origin is the Roman ritual, Lupercalia. Lupercalia celebrated Fanus, the Roman god of agriculture, and Roman leaders: Romulus and Remus. According to’s article, “Lupercialia”, Lupercalia was an ancient pagan festival held each year in Rome on February 15.” It was a celebration [filled with] a bloody, violent…celebration awash with animal sacrifice, random matchmaking, and coupling in the hopes of warding off evil spirits and infertility.”


However, there is one question that remains unanswered, how did Valentine’s Day evolve into what it is today? According to NPR,” Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe.”


When asked if students would either like to spend their Valentine’s Day in the past or the holiday about love that it is now?. Sydney Foster, a sophomore at CdM remarked, ” I want violent festivals back”. Another student, Mikayla  Roby, a sophomore at CdM commented, “I’d rather celebrate Valentine’s the way we do today, where we can celebrate with friends and significant others!” 


To conclude, Valentine’s Day has not always been the holiday that everyone knows today. It has transformed greatly from horrific and bloody Roman rituals celebrating St. Valentine to a romantic holiday celebrating love.