Valentine’s Day Is More Morbid Than You Think.

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Red paper hearts? Check. Supermarket chocolates? Check. Knowing the origin of Valentine’s Day? Incomplete. Valentine’s Day is here again, and as many know, it’s the holiday that just screams LOVE. Besides the age-old traditions, surplus of red, and credit card bills ranking in the hundreds, many don’t know the actual origin of Valentine’s Day. In fact, many historians can’t place a single finger on the exact origin of this day. Proposed theories of V-day range from a Pagan festival, to a Roman priest breaking the law. However, the “original” Valentine’s celebration may not be as romantic as you once thought.

In a recent holiday overview published by History.com, the first proposed origin of this holiday starts with the man himself: St. Valentine. As it’s known, saints are a part of the Christian religion. People that practice Christianity pray to various saints for a specific reason, such as guidance, protection of animals and more. These features are designated to specific saints based on their primary actions when they were humans on earth. A prime example is St. Francis of Assisi. Francis is the patron saint of caring for animals and the environment. The actions of this Catholic Saint can easily be depicted from his description. Like Francis, Valentine started off in a Catholic church in Rome. Since it was the third century, Valentine was a priest under the rule of Emperor Claudius II.

Legend has it, that Claudius II made a new law specifically for young men under his rule, the proposed plan of action. According to History.com, the Roman Emperor felt that his army would be stronger if all of his men were unmarried. This accusation created a marriage ban in Rome. In response, Valentine continued to marry couples. These ceremonies were held without Claudius’ knowledge, which ultimately lead to the execution of Valentine. This is only one of the many theories that are speculated about the origin of St. Valentine and why this holiday was named after him.
Another look at Valentine’s Day is through the eyes of the Pagans. For centuries, the Christians and the Pagans have fought over religion and views of the world. According to History.com’s Valentine’s overview, another theory of Valentine’s Day is believed to be a trick by the Christians to over-throw the pagans. Yes, this sounds like the next episode of Bravo TV’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta, but it’s far from it. On February 15, the day after Valentine’s Day, Pagans would celebrate the festival of fertility known as Lupercalia. This festival’s objective was to celebrate fertility, also honoring Romulus and Remus (Rome’s founders), and Faunus (God of agriculture).

Each year, Roman priests would go to the cave that was known to be the birthplace of Romulus and Remus. Next, the priests would take a nearby goat, sacrifice it, and then skin it. After History.com states that the priests then took the goat’s skin, drenched it in blood and pelted crops and women with it. This was a way the Pagan community promised fertility to both human beings and agriculture in the New Year. Nothing says “I Love You,” than a slap to the body with a dead animal skin covered in blood. So romantic!

Since the Pagan tradition of Lupercalia has come to an end, a new order was taken into effect. Pope Gelasius was the official voice in making Valentine’s Day an annual tradition on February 14th. Being a man of the Christian faith, he rejected all thoughts and activities that embraced the Pagan lifestyle. Having a “day of love” before Lupercalia was thought to denounce all evil. On more scientific note, according to History.com’s overview, it was believed that Valentine’s Day had to do with the birds, literally. In the countries of France and England, birds began to mate on this romantic day. Since mating is known as…well…we won’t go there, it was the perfect solution to have a “love-filled” holiday.

 As the world continues to rejoice and accept the warmth of the Valentine’s Day glow, the tradition has changed significantly, but the passion for a holiday dedicated to love continues to grow stronger. Today instead of decaying carcasses, people express their love usually through the use of materialistic goods. From candy hearts to diamond earrings, the possibilities are endless. Although the historians can’t pin point the exact origin of this romantic day, the mysterious tradition of this holiday remains a treasure to all. After reading about these origins, Valentine’s Day is completely open to all interpretations.

 

For more information, please visit:   http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day

By: Brendan McLaughlin

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