Lupercalia was a fertility festival in Rome in mid-February during which, among other ghastly rituals, men would slap women and crops with bloody goat hide to make them more fertile.
The 8th-century Gelasian Sacramentary recorded the celebration of the Feast of Saint Valentine on February 14. The day became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished, apparently by association with the "lovebirds" of early spring.
The Spotlight of Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day has become a popular holiday to celebrate love and relationships. But where did this holiday come from and what is the history of Valentine's Day? Valentine’s Day originated from the Roman Empire as a celebration of their fertility god, Lupercus. On the 15th of February, priests would sacrifice goats and dogs and then whip the women with their hides to increase fertility. This tradition was upheld until the 3rd century AD when Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than married men. He outlawed marriage for young men, leaving St. Valentine to defy his decree and secretly perform marriages. When his actions were discovered, he was sentenced to death. It is said that while he was in prison, he wrote to his beloved a last love letter before his execution, signing it "from your Valentine". This is possibly what led to the celebration of love during this time period and is where many people believe Valentine’s Day originated.
Valentine was martyred in AD 296 and by the 5th century, the feast of Saint Valentine on February 14 was first established by Pope Gelasius I in 496, allowing believers to honor the martyr's life and recognize love in all its forms. It was believed that birds found their mates on this day so people began sending small messages of love written on paper hearts or flowers. It wasn't until centuries later that the modern practice of buying cards for loved ones began and roses became synonymous with Valentine’s Day.
Today, Valentine’s Day has become a widely celebrated holiday with people showering their loved ones with gifts, flowers, and chocolates to show their affection. While celebrating has changed over the years and commercialized by modern society, the origin of this special day remains rooted in history and a celebration of love in all its forms.