Valentine’s Day is a pretty weird holiday, isn’t it? Sure, all of the flowers, chocolates, and romantic things are lovely to see. But why do we even celebrate it in the first place? The answer is a bit confusing, and the history of Valentine’s Day definitely isn’t nearly as romantic as people may think. If you want to learn more about the bizarre origins of Valentine’s Day, then keep reading.
The most popular theory about Valentine’s Day goes back to the Italian bishop Valentin von Terni. He lived in the third century AD when Christianity as a religion was forbidden. Back then, couples were not allowed to marry in a church. Contrary to the prohibition of Emperor Claudius II, Valentin is said to have married Christian couples and even given them bouquets of flowers from his monastery garden.
Because Valentin did not want to stop practicing his religion, he was decapitated in Rome on February 14, 269. 200 years after that, Pope Gelasius declared the day of his death “Valentine’s Day.” However, there is no concrete evidence to support this claim.
Another theory is linked to the ancient Roman holiday called Lupercalia. The Romans celebrated this day on February 15, and it was linked to many different weird traditions. These traditions included sacrificing goats and frolicking naked around fires while singing. During this festival, young women would draw names from an urn, and one man would be paired with each woman. They were then expected to stay together until February 15th, when they would draw new names from the urn again.
In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius declared that Lupercalia should be moved to February 14th so that Christians could celebrate their faith instead of participating in pagan rituals such as sacrificing animals or dancing around fires.
Modern-day Valentine’s Day
Now that we have a general idea about the origins of Valentine’s Day, let’s explore the history of the most common V Day symbols. Such as Cupid and the heart as a symbol of love.
To understand a little bit more about Cupid and his origins, we have to take a look at the Roman mythology of Venus, the goddess of love. Venus was often depicted as a beautiful woman with golden hair, wearing a robe made out of swan feathers and carrying an apple. You’ve probably seen her in numerous paintings. According to Roman mythology, Cupid was her baby son.
Cupid was also associated with love and beauty. He is usually shown as a naked boy with wings and holding either an arrow or a bow. It’s hard to say when Cupid became the face of Valentine’s Day. He was probably a natural fit, and hopeless romantics all around the world hoped that Cupid’s arrow would hit them on this holiday.
The Heart Symbol
Have you ever wondered why a heart became the symbol of love? While the heart is an undeniably important organ, there is no evidence that it has anything to do with romance or romantic love.
The most popular theories go, once again, back to ancient Rome. One of the theories says that the heart shape comes from the shape of leaves that were once used in a popular love potion. Another theory claims that St. Valentine used this symbol while marrying Christian couples.