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Student Media of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri

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Student Media of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri

Lindenlink

Valentine’s Day: Hallmark or History

A+flower+crown%2C+said+to+be+gifted+to+others+on+Lupercalia.
Photo by Pexels
A flower crown, said to be gifted to others on Lupercalia.

Feb. 14 is often regarded as a Hallmark holiday, a day to give money to card companies and chocolatiers, but it comes from so much more than a greeting card company.   

Many people either dread or adore the day because it comes with gifts, cards, and declarations of love in public places. Valentine’s Day is seen as a celebration of love, rooted in a capitalist society, and based on material goods. 

However, the holiday is more than the material goods gifted to a significant other. It is tied to the celebration of Saint Valentine and the festival of Lupercalia. These both go back to the Roman Empire, which existed from 27 BC to 476 AD on the European continent.  

Saint Valentine is a bit of a mystery. According to History, “The Catholic Church recognizes at least two different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, both of whom were martyred.” All three of these men were said to have lived during the time of Emperor Claudius II and were sentenced to death.  

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This was during the third century of Rome’s height, and the emperor had announced that unmarried men were better soldiers and therefore young men were not allowed to get married. There was said to be a priest who illegally married young couples in secret after this proclamation. When it was discovered, Valentine was put to death.  

Another Valentine was the Saint of Terni, a bishop whom Emperor Claudius beheaded. He was said to have saved people from illnesses, and miracle cures for blindness and leprosy made him a saint. This Valentine was said to be put to death in 270 AD on Feb. 14, the same day as the other Valentine’s execution. 

Some researchers say they could have been the same man, yet others insist there were two Valentines in the Roman Catholic Church. The last historical rumor about the Saint (or Saints) Valentine is about a letter written on the day of their execution.

According to Britannica, “St. Valentine signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended and healed from blindness.” 

While this ties the celebration of Valentine’s Day to the Roman Catholic Church, it is also linked to Roman mythology.

History Skills describes the ancient festival as, “a rite of passage for young men and a celebration of fertility, aimed at both livestock and humans.” The reason for the festival goes back to the beginning of the Roman Empire, to the twins Romulus and Remus. The twins were said to be raised by a she-wolf in a cave on Palatine Hill.  

It was said that the festival would celebrate the god Lupercus, who was the god of shepherds and fertility. The priests, or Luperci, would sacrifice goats and dogs on Palatine Hill on Feb. 13. The furs from the sacrifices would be used as clothing for the Luperci for the rest of the festival.  

They would then run around the hill and hit any female onlookers with the leftover furs, this was meant to improve fertility and ease childbirth pains for the women. The festival would end with a feast and gifts to loved ones, one of the most notable gifts was a flower crown to Emperor Julius Ceaser. However, the festival was outlawed by the Catholic church like most other Pagan rituals, historians believe that it was absorbed into the celebration of Valentine’s Day.  

Yet, modern-day Valentine’s Day is deeply rooted in consumerism culture. The practice of buying gifts and chocolates for loved ones is a way to show how much a person cares about them. If an individual finds themself wishing to go back to the origins of this holiday without spending a chunk of cash, they can try making a flower crown and gifting it to a friend or loved one.  

Other ways to celebrate would include going on a walk or run somewhere beautiful, writing letters to friends and loved ones, or even just spending quality time with those friends and loved ones. Valentine’s Day comes from more than a greeting card company, it is a day meant to celebrate love despite the rules and the blooming of spring flowers.  

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Jia (Sophia) Buck, Culture Editor
Jia Buck is the culture editor and a reporter for Lindenlink Media. She is a freshman majoring in Communications with an emphasis on Journalism. Aside from writing, Jia loves strange historical facts, fantasy books, and anything creative. Jia spends her free time with friends or rewatching Gilmore Girls for the hundredth time.
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