The History of Valentine’s Day You Wish You Never Knew

Valentine’s Day 2023 is here, and as you can see, there is a myriad of blossoming loves, passionate sweethearts, friendly gift packages, broken hearts, one-side lovers, cool singles and some “sigma” people (payasathil elaykka pole allelum kanumallo) around you. Even though Valentine’s Day is about love, its history tells a different story. Here are some lesser-known facts and the history of Valentine’s Day.

All the soldiers under the Roman emperor Claudius II Gauthicus around 270 CE were not allowed to marry in ancient times. These weddings were illegal. But, a priest named Valentine defied this order and performed marriages in secret. It is told that he was caught and prisoned, where he befriended the jailer’s daughter. The priest signed a letter to the girl as “from your Valentine”. It was his last letter before he was beheaded on February 14th. This story is said to have inspired the commonly used term “Valentine” to refer to one person’s love interest on this day. Some records say that the St.Valentine of Terni, a bishop, might have influenced this holiday naming. Chances are, they might be the same.

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The History of Valentine’s Day You Wish You Never Knew

Although the name Valentine is associated with St.Valentine and his sacrifice for love, the practice behind this day doesn’t have a very romantic origin. It is claimed to have its origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a Pagan festival held during the avian mating season and also at the start of the spring season. Naked priests would run through the streets, spanking women with animal hides. This act was believed to promote fertility. Then they were paired off with men by lottery. The Christianising of this holiday has made the festival less sexy and more drunken during the following ages.

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Valentine’s Day’s romantic nature came to be celebrated only during the 14th century. The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote “Parlement of Foules”, which contains the following lines:

“For this was on St.Valentine’s day when every bird comes there to choose his mate”. The nobles of the time began writing poems to their love interests as valentines. From then on, everything related to the day became a love business. 

The History of Valentine’s Day You Wish You Never Knew

Formal Valentine’s day messages came in the 16th century, followed by commercial wish cards in the 18th century. In 1861, Richard Cadbury initiated a new marketing move. He created heart-shaped boxes and sold their assorted chocolates in them. This became an instant hit. Heart-shaped chocolate boxes are sold as hotcakes even today.

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The History of Valentine’s Day You Wish You Never Knew

Today, Valentine’s day is one of the world’s most successful and widely celebrated events, even though some countries have banned the celebrations for religious reasons. 

I hope you find love, abundance and prosperity this Valentine’s Day, and hey, If not, don’t worry. Some events like Galentine’s day are celebrated by exchanging gifts between female friends to promote female friendship. It is becoming more gender inclusive now. So, go and gift that pair of shoes to your best friend who has been sending you screenshots of!

Vinegar Valentine cards – the traditional way originated in the 1800s to tell or mock someone that you hate (ok, please don’t as this is the day for love and not hate). Do you have some unique ideas to celebrate this Valentine’s Day? Please let us know in the comments.

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