On February 14 on the Gregorian calendar, lovers indulge in momentous romantic-themed outings, shopping, dinners, and many more to celebrate their passionate relationships. The heart-shaped single-day festivity is known for kissing, gift-giving, and other ways of showing affection towards another person. But have you ever wondered how the celebration started? What does Valentine’s Day mean, and how did February 14 come to be considered the day of love?
Today, the premise of Valentine's Day is simple to comprehend. It is a time to show and share the love with friends, family, significant others, and anyone else you love. Similar to other holidays, like Christmas, Valentine's Day origin is quite unusual.
Although the day has fascinating backstories, some shrouded in mystery; no one can confirm such theories' authenticity. Nonetheless, the tales of its origin give captivating accounts of how the lovers day started.
The early history of Valentine’s Day
It is integral to go back to where it all began to understand Valentine's Day true meaning. It is named after Saint Valentine, a Catholic priest that resided in Rome in the third century.
The lover's day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate his death that probably happened around A.D. 270. Others claim that Valentine's Day was placed in the middle of February to Christianize Roman's pagan celebration of Lupercalia.
According to the Roman calendar, Lupercalia was a fertility festival that was celebrated on February 15. It was dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus, and the Roman founders Romulus and Remus. The festival began by the Luperci, an order of Roman priests gathering in a cave they believed housed Romulus and Remus under the care of she-wolf.
The priests sacrificed a goat (for fertility) and a dog (for purification), then whipped women and crop with the animals' hides. Interestingly, women welcomed the whipping as they believed it would make them fertile the following year.
According to legend, later in the day, all ladies would place their names in an urn and get them mixed up. Later, bachelors would randomly pick names from the jar and become paired with whoever they get for the rest of the year.
The ancient Roman’s role in naming the day
What if Valentine's Day had another name? What do you think would have been the day's name if the circumstances altered? Who knows, maybe another Catholic martyr or a Roman god?
Interestingly, the ancient Romans played a significant role in naming the day because of the events during Emperor Claudius II's reign. He was a pagan emperor that created strict laws of what Christians were allowed to do.
Emperor Claudius II executed two men named Valentine on February 14 in different years in the 3rd century A.D. The Catholic church honoured their martyrdom with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day, hence the name.
In the 5th century Pope Gelasius I combined St. Valentine's Day with Lupercalia to eliminate the pagan ritual. Although it brought new meaning and the elimination of pagan rituals, it did not stop from being the day of fertility and love.
How did Valentine's Day start?
It took 200 years for February 14 to be proclaimed St. Valentine's Day. During this era, Christianity was the dominant faith in Rome, and the Catholic Church was doing all it could to eliminate all traces of paganism.
The English poet Chaucer was the first person to associate St. Valentine with romantic love. And the tradition spread fast across Europe. On top of this, tales emerged of a Higher Court of Love whereby female judges ruled on matters of love on February 14 every year. However, some believe that these were meetings where people shared love poetry.
What does Valentine’s Day mean today?
Today, people celebrate Valentine's Day worldwide, and it is considered a day of love. Although most regions commemorate it as a day of expressing love between romantic couples, others celebrate the love between family and friends.
Numerous couples decide to celebrate Valentine's Day with a romantic dinner or a special, home-cooked meal. Others share Valentine's Day gifts cards with lovely words and romantic messages.
What does the Bible say about Valentine's Day?
Valentine's Day's origin is clear and of course, happened long after the Bible was composed. It is a day of love, people sharing romantic messages and enjoying each other's company in numerous ways. What does the Bible say about this day?
Although not directly, the Holy Book has various verses that talk about love and how people ought to celebrate the momentous day. For instance, in 1 John 4:7 – 12:
Dear friends: let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
On the other hand, some might argue that sharing love under a pagan festival's trappings is unacceptable as the Bible condemns the practice in various instances. It is upon you to learn the true meaning of Valentine's Day, seek meaning from it and how you celebrate it.
Why is Valentine's Day bad?
Today, Valentine's Day is considered a day of love, but its origin, as discussed above, led to the martyrdom of St. Valentine and is also associated with a pagan festival. When you consider these unfortunate events and nothing else, you can view the day terrible and non-deserving of a celebratory mood.
However, today's significance precedes all the evils that history claims happened in the past and makes it a lovely day for sharing love between family, friends, and romantic couples.
Is Valentine's Day a holiday?
It is unlikely that there is a country that has Valentine's Day as a public holiday. However, the day is commemorated worldwide every year on February 14 as people share love between one another.
Valentine's day is a chance to express your affection, whether to a significant other, best friend or a family member that you care about. And if you have been wondering "what does Valentine’s Day mean?" it can cover those mentioned above in a variety of contexts. Express yourself and tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.
Yen.com.gh featured an exciting story of a man that married a lady that agreed to go out with him on Valentine's Day. The romantic report shows that the love shared on Valentine's Day can be permanent if you meet the right person.
The man posted asking people if they were together with the person they went out with last year on Valentine’s Day.