St. Valentine’s Day: a secular and commercial day of love for people to show their significant other that they love them; making it the most romantic and passionate day of the year.
Apparently, but how well do we actually know the history behind this day that we so blindly embrace? You can understand my interest in this if your mind is also as curious as mine.
So let me lay out the history for you in the simplest form and then we can decide if it’s worth saving your efforts for one specific day to do something special for your partner – you know, in the name of love and all of that.
Valentine’s Day was created by the Roman Catholic Church to Christianise the celebration of Lupercalia: an ancient Roman festival. This festival took place between Feb 13 to 15th and was dedicated to “fertility” entailing orgies, sex with minors and the sacrificing of goats and dogs, as they were known for their strong sexual instincts. These sacrifices were made for the God of Fertility “Lupercus”. The men would wear the skin of these animals and whip any women who came near them. In other words, all these rituals are completely paganism.
The month of February was sacred to Juno Februata, the Goddess of the fever of love and marriage. Festivals would commence in this month to encourage single men to draw a small piece of paper from a box where a women’s name would be written. The assigned couple formed a temporary liaison for the erotic games to follow during Lupercalia.
The Roman Emperor, Claudius II, banned marriages during this century, as only single men could enter the army and too many young men were eloping with women. A Roman physician converted to Christianity, when this was a prosecuted religion. His name was Saint Valentine and according to stories he used to marry Christian couples in secret. However, he was captured and taken by soldiers, as they recognised a the cupid ring he used to wear.
Once finding him, he was taken to jail; awaiting execution. During this time people often visited him in jail to tell him how love is so much better than going to war. He also fell in love with a jailers daughter and when writing love letters to her he would sign it with “From Your Valentine” and thus the name of Valentine was born. The day of his execution landed on February the 14th. The Catholic Church then honoured Saint Valentine’s martyrdom due to his devotion to religion and love with the celebration of Valentine’s Day, this is instead of the pagan God, Lupercus.
Once the Roman empire fell and and Rome adopted Christianity instead, the Roman Catholic church made some changes. The Catholic church was opposed to the display of open eroticism and sensuality that took place during Lupercalia. Pope Gelasius I in the 5th century then combined the Lupercalia festival into Valentine’s Day to eliminate all the pagan rituals.
This pagan festival that used to commence to “enhance fertility” was completely rebranded and commercialised into the “Valentine’s Day” as we know it today.
Reading all about this kind of makes you feel a little bit strange, as we are now living in a world that most, if not all retail businesses rely on this day to make that much more money from you with their unusual strategies. I mean I just saw a sunglasses company on Instagram going on sale for Valentine’s Day… Really? And not to mention Starbucks has a ridiculous special Valentine’s Day drink that they sell during this month.
It makes you think. What kind of world are we living in today? How easy is it for these businesses to fool us into buying more? And we just accept and embrace this without even giving a second thought.
Bottom line is: don’t be fooled. Educate yourself. Know what you’re celebrating and most of all – EVERYDAY IS LOVE DAY! 🙂