The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The reason for the season of love

The origins of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day: widely known as the holiday of love despite the fact that some individuals loathe everything about the romantic occasion. 

Whatever stance a person might take, many individuals are completely unaware of the origins behind Valentine’s Day, and how it quickly became an incredibly popular holiday among the likes of romanticists and chocolate-lovers alike. 

Like most notable history occurrences, the origins of Valentine’s Day are also shrouded in a thick veil of mystery and speculation. However, historians and Valentine’s day fanatics can agree on one main conclusion: that there is potentially more than one St. Valentine that the holiday is supposedly named after.  

“Search the internet, and you can find plenty of stories about him – or them. One Saint Valentine was supposedly a Roman priest who performed secret weddings against the wishes of the authorities in the third century. Imprisoned in the home of a noble, he healed his captor’s blind daughter, causing the whole household to convert to Christianity and sealing his fate. Before being tortured and decapitated on February 14, he sent the girl a note signed ‘Your Valentine,’” the History website disclosed. “Some accounts say another saint named Valentine during the same period was the Bishop of Terni, also credited with secret weddings and martyrdom via beheading on February 14.” 

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However, in spite of these widespread, incredibly harrowing, dismal myths, some scholars who have studied Valentine’s Day and its origins have argued that there is little to no basis or evidence of these tales ever occurring. 

“Valentine was a popular name in ancient Rome, and there are at least 50 stories of different saints by that name. But Forbes said the earliest surviving accounts of the two February 14 Valentines, written starting in the 500s, have a whole lot in common. Both were said to have healed a child while imprisoned, leading to a household-wide religious conversion, and they were executed on the same day of the year and buried along the same highway. The historical evidence is so sketchy that it’s not clear whether the story started with one saint who then became two or if biographers of one man borrowed details from the other—or if either ever existed at all,” the History website assured. 

Moreover, the two most popular Valentine’s Day origin stories – about St. Valentine the priest and St. Valentine the Bishop – not only have a gruesome plotline, but they also do not possess an ounce of true romance within them. 

The reason that Valentine’s Day is centered around love and romance in the first place is due to a man named Geoffrey Chaucer, who was an English poet in the Middle Ages. 

“So how did Chaucer create the Valentine’s Day we know today? In the 1370s or 1380s, he wrote a poem called ‘Parliament of Fowls’ that contains this line: ‘For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate,’” the History website continued. 

Ever since the debut of Chaucer’s amorous poem, Feb. 14 has been referred to as Valentine’s Day, and every year it is celebrated with boatloads of chocolate, oversized stuffed animals, over-priced flowers, and an abundance of love. 

Other than the multiple legends of various St. Valentine martyrs, some have also speculated that Valentine’s Day is linked to a Christian effort to replace the ancient festival of Lupercalia, which Romans celebrated on Feb. 15. 

Some age-old stories say that this festival was a particularly romantic and scandalous Roman holiday where women and men were paired up by drawing each other’s respective names from a jar. Yet once again, there are scholarly accounts that do not support this line of belief. 

“Whatever minor romantic connotations might have been part of Lupercalia, they didn’t translate to the new Christian holiday,” the History website concluded.

Overall, the amount of speculation and lack of concrete evidence may lead to modern society never understanding the true origins of Valentine’s Day. However, if someone named St. Valentine had to lose his head in order for us to have a holiday filled with romance, chocolate, and endless cuddles, it might have all been worth it – maybe not for him though. 

   For information regarding Valentine’s Day and its origin story please visit, www.history.com/news/real-st-valentine-medieval, www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2, and www.britannica.com/topic/Valentines-Day.

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Campbell Burnett, Content Editor

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