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The history of Valentine’s Day: It wasn’t always so commercial

History of valentine's day

When exactly did the day of love become so commercialized? Let’s look at the history of Valentine’s Day.

The origins of Valentine’s Day

The roots of February 14th date back to about 300BC, when it was the Roman feast of Lupercalia. During this ancient time, Romans celebrated that spring was around the corner by doing various rituals. Shockingly one of these rituals was whipping women, which was said to increase their fertility. Yes, I’m horrified by that fact too.

Plus, Lupercalia was when the blind date first began. Names were drawn through a lottery and matched. This couple (man and woman) would then spend the holiday together that happened between February 13 and 15. When the event ended, they would get married if they liked one another.

What about the name Valentine in the history of this day?

So, where does this name come from? Pope Gelasius replaced the pagan holiday with a day in honor of Saint Valentine in about 500 AD.

Valentine was a martyr who was executed by the Pope. If you search online, there are several different stories about him, including that he signed a love letter “from your Valentine.” By all accounts, he was a real person.

Romanticizing Valentines Day

February 14th became a day of romance when William Shakespeare and other well-known writers, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, romanticized it. They spoke of Valentine’s Day in terms of love and that helped form the romantic connections we now place on this particular day.

Today, the day is one known for showering loved ones with cards, candy, and flowers to celebrate it. Oh and jewelry too!

Commercializing Valentine’s Day

The day has taken on a commercial value that seems to grow and grow over the years. It is big business for brands that watch sales of chocolate and other sweets skyrocket in the days leading up to Feb. 14th.

When you stop to think about the day, it seems strange that so much focus is on material things to give others rather than the relationships between people. Rather than worrying about merchandise this year, I encourage you to look at how you can show someone you love how much they mean to you, without spending any money. Writing an old-fashioned love letter is a great example.

Others choose not to celebrate Valentine’s Day because of its commercialization or for another reason. For example, you might think it is an arbitrary day and that showing love is something to do throughout the year, rather than just one day of love.

Conclusion on the history and future of Valentine’s Day

Now that’s an interesting history, right?! If you’re looking for info on other days we celebrate yearly, check out this post on the origins of Easter.

By the way, love needs celebration now more than ever before! It’s a lonely time during the pandemic and connections mean so much. Rather than gifting a material present to the special people in your life this year, tell them how important they are to you and cherish them.

Wishing you a lifetime of love!

20 thoughts on “The history of Valentine’s Day: It wasn’t always so commercial”

  1. Everything we celebrate has a history. But it is very true everything has become commercialized.
    Even though we celebrate in our own way, we should never forget to be kind to others regardless if it’s a holiday or not.

  2. Interesting facts about Valentine’s Day. I really don’t mind the commercial stuff about Valentines. I don’t buy any of it.
    I always enjoyed the Valentine exchanges in grade school.
    I remember the beautiful boxes the teachers made to put the cards in. Mother did buy little cards for me to give to school chums. I would lay all of them out on a table and carefully pick out a card for each classmate. I mean …. I would agonize over what to give to whom.

    And when I opened my cards …. the message on them was very person to me. I had more boyfriends in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades than ….. in the whole rest of my life. lol

    I encouraged my own kids to make Valentines at home. I provided paper and ribbons etc etc. But do you think they wanted to do that? No of course not. So we finally bought them.
    I love Valentine’s Day! :)

  3. Thank you, Christy, for sharing the post on the fascinating history of Valentine’s Day! Hope you have a fantastic day.

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