The Ancient History of Valentine’s Day

Red roses are traditional Valentines Day gifts that express love.

Red roses are traditional Valentine’s Day gifts that express love.

Rhodes Ngabirano, Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day, has been observed as a day for roses, chocolate, stuffed animals, and overall romance for over 1,526 years. To really know where Valentine’s Day and its traditions started, understanding its historical roots is essential.

Valentine’s Day has not just one, but two origins circling back to the early Christian Church and the festival of Lupercalia, which was back in ancient Rome. We can trace the holiday back to a pagan festival to honor Lupa, the she-wolf of Rome and/or Faunus, who was known as their god of fertility.


The festival was very dark and involved animal sacrifice and the hitting of women with the skin harvested from said animals. The people of that time believed that this would make the women more fertile. Men would pick a woman’s name from a jar as a way to distribute women and whomever they got, they would spend the rest of the festival with.  

Saint Valentine

The Christain Church came into play when a man by the name of Valentine was executed by Emperor Claudius II on February 14 around the time of Lupercalia (roughly around 240 A.D) for refusing to deny Jesus Christ.

The story of Valentine getting executed started with Emperor Claudius banning marriage because he wanted his army to be at full strength at all times with no distractions such as marriage and /or families. This was very disheartening and harmful to the expression of love, so St.Valentine, that kind man he was, went against Emperor Claudius and continued to marry couples. St. Valentine was eventually caught and he was condemned.

It was said that before St.Valentine was executed, he had fallen in love with a young girl, and on February 14, he sent her a letter signed, “From Your Valentine.”

To stop the festivals of Lupercalia, Pope Gelasius joined Lupercalia and featured the execution of St.Valentine, and thus the holiday that we all know as Valentine’s Day was created.