Valentine's Day

Anna Varela·14 February 2023·3 min read
Valentine's Day

Where does Valentine’s Day come from?

The origin of Valentine’s day is one of ambiguity. Some historians believe it dates back to the pagan celebration Lupercalia, a holiday in the middle of February that celebrated fertility. In the late 5th century, Lupercalia was outlawed by Pope Gelasius and soon after, the Catholic church established a day of feasts to celebrate Saint Valentine. Some sources believe the day was created to replace Lupercalia and claim it as a Catholic holiday.

While its origin remains slightly ambiguous, it’s widely accepted that Valentine’s day didn’t start gaining association with romantic love until the 14th century. Famous English poet Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to record Valentine’s day as a day of romance in his 1375 poem “Parliament of Foules," writing, “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate." Because of this recording, Chaucer is thought to be the ‘inventor’ of Valentine’s as we know it today. Further, in Britain, February 14th was considered the first day of spring and the beginning of birds’ mating season, which aided in establishing a romantic tone to the holiday. Soon, people began exchanging written love letters to commemorate the day.

Why do we celebrate Valentine’s day?

Regardless of whether Chaucer should be credited for modern day Valentine’s celebrations, the question remains: Why do we celebrate it? The mid-19 th century saw the creation of many of the commercialised Valentine’s traditions we see today (i.e., Victorian men buying flowers and chocolates in an effort to charm women). Skip a couple decades into the future and the modern-day Valentine’s day card began being mass produced in the early 1900’s by an American company that would eventually become Hallmark.

While these traditions seem as if they have no connection to the Saint the day is named after, it’s because they don’t. Time (and capitalism) has evolved the holiday to become what it is today, a day of love, flowers, chocolates, and little teddy bears. So, whether you’re spending the day with someone you love, your friends, or enjoying some you-time, you can go into this Valentine’s day with a little bit more understanding as to why we celebrate it and where it comes from.

Happy Valentine’s Day!