The True Meaning of Valentine’s Day


Mamie Rushkoff, managing editor

When you think of Valentine’s day, you think of chocolate, roses, and romance. Hundreds of years ago, the holiday was certainly less romantic and less expensive. There are a couple possibilities of how Valentine’s Day came to be, but many people believe that it started with the Romans. 

Each year, from February 13th to 15th, Romans would have a celebration called  Lupercalia. According to, women would even line up for men to literally hit them (maybe this is where the phrase “hitting on someone” comes from). Men also drew names of women out of a jar, which was a way of matchmaking for the holiday.

The Romans are possibly also responsible for the name of the holiday, as Emperor Claudius II Gothicus executed two martyrs named Valentine on February 14th, although in different years. Some think that Valentine is one person, which historically makes more sense with the classic story of Valentine’s Day. Claudius II Gothicus wanted his soldiers to be devoted to Rome, so he came up  with a “simple” solution: he banned marriage. Gothicus did not want soldiers to have familial ties and commitments outside of being a soldier. Saint Valentine carried out marriages for happy couples,  although Gothicus found out and sentenced Saint Valentine to a three-part execution ceremony: beating, stoning, decapitation. While in jail awaiting his execution, St. Valentine allegedly signed a letter to his jailer’s daughter “from your Valentine”.  St. Valentine died on February 14th, the day we now know as Valentine’s Day.

Hundreds of years later, during the Middle Ages, people even started to make handmade cards for each other remembering the holiday of love. As time went by, the holiday became more and more well-known. Surprisingly, Shakespeare actually had a lot to do with the holiday as  well. In his work, he began to romanticize Valentine’s Day, so people in Britain became more and more aware as years passed.

As the annual tradition made its way to the rest of the world, the Hallmark Company© began producing their own cards for Valentine’s day. Cupid, the Roman god of love, began to appear on the cards, as well as birds, because their mating season starts around the time of Valentine’s day. 

Now, Valentine’s day is celebrated all over the globe. Kids and adults give each other sweet gifts on February 14, and high schools even make candy grams for students. Some people may be going broke getting gifts for their loved ones, while others celebrate SAD (single awareness day). However you celebrated, I hope you learned something and had a great Valentine’s day.