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Valentine’s Day Throughout the Years

Valentine’s day hasn’t always been about love. Long ago, people weren’t giving out love letters, heart-shaped chocolates, or sending teddy bears to the people they fancied. Although historians don’t know exactly how the holiday or love came to be, these are a few of the ideas about how the holiday evolved into what is today. 

Valentine’s day origins were not all lovey-dovey; they were in fact very gruesome. Valentine’s day’s earliest possible origin was the Paegan holiday called Lupercilia. The holiday was always celebrated in the middle of February and celebrated fertility. The boys would do things, not very kind things, to young girls to promote fertility. The first day of Lupercilia was celebrated in the year 496 and lasted many centuries. 

When Pope Gelsious, a Catholic priest, came to power in the late 15th century he put an end to Lupercilia. The Catholic church soon later named February 14th Valentine’s day after saint Valentine. On that day they would feast and celebrate the patron saint. The feast was put in place to replace Lupercilia. 

Despite the common thought, there was more than one Saint Valentine; in fact, there were actually 30, and even a few Valentinas. Historians cannot be sure which Valentine the holiday is named after, but they managed to narrow it down to two likely candidates. Though neither saint had anything to do with love or romance, they both have very similar stories. Both Valentines were put to death by the Roman Empire Claudius and were both killed on February 14th However, they were killed many years apart from each other. These similarities lead some historians to believe they may have been the same person. 

The first Valentine was a priest that was put under house arrest during the Roman persecution of Christians. He was put under house arrest because when he was brought before the Roman Emporer he refused to renounce his faith. When he was under house arrest he restored the sight of a young blind girl. That caused everyone that saw him do that to convert to Christianity. Once the emperor heard of the miracle and conversion, Valentine was swiftly executed. The second Valentine was also a priest, Bishop Valentine of Terni. He was known as a miracle worker who cured the incurable. He healed a scholar’s son causing the whole family to convert. He was then arrested for his miracle, and when he refused to convert to Paganism he was executed.   

Jack B. Oruch, a professor at the University of Kansas, believes that the poet Geoffrey Chaucer was the person that pushed Valentine’s day to be about romance. The thing that linked love and this holiday was Chaucer’s poem called The Parliament of Foules. Oruch believes Chaucer accidentally linked Valentine’s day to romance because Valentine’s day is around the time that birds in Europe start to mate. Later on, both people and poets started to follow Chaucer’s ideas about romance on valentines day. Shakespeare was one of the poets who agreed with Chauncer,  helping spread the idea of romance around this holiday. 

Today people celebrate the holiday by giving chocolates, teddy bears, flowers, or jewelry to their love birds. Although Valentine’s day can be from a gruesome past, society has managed to find a way to find love on such a somber day. 

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