History of Valentine’s Day

History+of+Valentine%27s+Day

Jack Purcell, Reporter

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then made whips with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be together for the duration of the festival. Or longer if the match was right.

The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men named Valentine on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Lenski adds, “It was a little more of a drunken revel. But That didn’t stop it from being a day of love.”

As the years went on, the holiday grew. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Handmade paper cards became very common in the Middle Ages.

Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World. The industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century. And in 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City began mass producing valentines cards.

Today, the holiday is big business. According to market research firm IBIS World, Valentine’s Day sales reached $17.6 billion last year; this year’s sales are expected to total $18.6 billion.

But that commercialization has spoiled the day for many. Helen Fisher, a sociologist at Rutgers University, says we have only ourselves to blame.

“This isn’t a command performance,” she says. “If people didn’t want to buy Hallmark cards, they would not be bought, and Hallmark would go out of business.”

And the celebration of Valentine’s Day goes on, in varied ways. Many will spend it alone and Many will spend lots of money buying jewelry and flowers for their loved ones.