What’s not to love

Some answers to questions regarding Valentine’s Day

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Photo by Bethany Arnold

While Valentines is a common holiday loved by many, it’s likely they don’t know its origin.

Story by Zoe Rushing, staff writer

Cupid, red roses and cards with sweet little notes have all become common symbols of Valentine’s Day, but how and where did this holiday even come from? Well, here are some answers to Valentine’s Day questions that shed  some light on  the love-filled holiday.

Where did Valentine’s Day come from?

Valentine’s day is actually an event that grew gradually over time with several events leading to it. These include the Feast of Lupercalia, a fertility festival celebrated on Feb. 15 and the life of Saint Valentine. However, the first person to actually regard Valentine’s day as a romantic celebration was Geoffrey Chaucer in his poem “Parliament of Foules.”

Who was Saint Valentine?

Saint Valentine, the man who is associated with the beginning of Valentine’s Day, is a mystery to even the history books. There were two priests named Valentine who were declared martyrs and died on Feb. 14. However, there is one story that most people believe to be the real one.

In 270 A.D., Claudius the Cruel banned marriage in Rome hoping to obtain more young soldiers. Valentine believed banning marriage was an injustice and married young lovers in secret and eventually was caught. Claudius had him sentenced to death on Feb. 14. After his death he was declared a Saint. 

How did these events lead to a holiday?

Feb. 14 was declared an official holiday in the 15th century by Pope Gelaisus I with the intention of honoring Saint Valentine and replacing Lupercalia, an ancient pagan festival that was supposed to ward off evil spirits and infertility with interesting methods.

Why do we say “Will you be my Valentine?”

During Saint Valentine’s imprisonment, he fell in love with his jailer’s daughters, Julia, after he healed her blindness. Before he was beheaded, he wrote her a farewell letter and signed “Your Valentine.” The phrase would be remembered for centuries to come, by the popular quote “Will you be my Valentine.”

Who is Cupid and why is he associated with the holiday?

Cupid is the Roman god of love, adopted from the Greek god of love, Eros. He is said to make people fall in love with his arrows with the occasional acts of mischief by pairing odd couples together to see what will happen.

The reason Cupid is portrayed as a baby is because a baby in some cultures is a symbol for  two people in love, so he was adapted into a baby starting in 1602 by renaissance painters, where he was portrayed as a small child with a bow and arrow. 

Valentine’s Day has a complicated history, shrouded in mystery with symbols that have survived the test of time and are still used today in the modern holiday celebrated by millions across the world.