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What Is Valentine’s Day and How Did It Start?


Valentine’s Day is probably the most romantic holiday in the world. It’s celebrated in most countries on February 14 – on this day, people have been declaring their love for each other for more than fifteen centuries.

Valentine’s Day has existed for more than 1500 years, but according to certain pagan traditions, the holidays of “Love” were popular even in the most ancient of times. In ancient Rome, on February 15, a feast of plenty was celebrated every year. It was called the Lupercalia. On this day, girls would write love letters, which were then placed in a huge urn. Men would then pull random letters, and start dating the girl who wrote it.

Ancient Greeks called this holiday Panurgy. They would play fun ritual games in honor of the god Pan – the patron deity of herds, forests, fields, and their fertility. According to the ancient myths, Pan was a merry fellow, who loved to chill in the woods playing his flute, and trying to seduce the local nymphs with his big… hooves.

As to the more modern take on this holiday, there are many legends associated with the name of St. Valentine. The most popular of them is the story of a Christian preacher who, in 269, married Roman legionnaires with their beloved women, despite it being forbidden and punishable by death. To preserve the military morale, the emperor issued a law forbidding the legionnaires to marry, since it was believed that a married man would only think about his wife and family, and not about the Empire or military prowess.

Saint Valentine sympathized with the warriors and tried to help them in every possible way. He would reconcile the quarreling lovers, wrote letters in their stead with declarations of love, gave flowers to young spouses, and conducted secret wedding ceremonies for the soldier.

When Claudius II learned about this, he ordered the priest to be imprisoned and soon after executed. According to the legend, while Valentine was still in his cell, the jailer’s blind daughter fell in love with him. But Valentine, being a priest who made a vow of celibacy, could not reciprocate her feelings. However, before the execution, on February 13, he wrote her a touching letter, where he confessed his true feelings to her. She received the letter only after the execution, but if the legend is to be believed, reading the words of love healed her blindness. We can safely assume that this legend originated the tradition of writing love notes on February 14.

Now that you know a little bit more about this holiday, do you still think it’s all a big scam? The comments await you!