Valentine’s Day has a dark and weird history

By Abigail Kim & Arlene Sanchez

What do you think of when you hear the words Valentine’s Day? Is it about spending time with your significant other? The overabundance of roses and chocolates, or sending a letter to confess your feelings to someone? It could be giving cards and candy to your friends, or even going out to dinner with your family. Or maybe Valentine’s Day is just a yearly reminder about how single you are. Although the holiday has become quite popular and commercialized, its history might shock you.

Valentine’s Day stems from a combination of historical traditions, the ancient Romans are certainly a part of the history of our holiday of love. For example, there was a time when getting married was a crime. During the 260s AD, Emperor Claudius II of Rome issued a ban that prevented young men from marrying, according to Claudius II believed that single men made much better soldiers than men with wives or families because they weren’t tied down to anything, and could therefore focus on becoming better fighters.

Valentine, a Catholic priest during that time, disapproved of the new ban and chose to marry couples in secret. Eventually, his crimes were discovered and Claudius sentenced him to beheading on February 14, the day on which we now commemorate as St. Valentine’s Day.
Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. It was celebrated each year on February 15.
During these celebrations, members of the Lupercai would gather in a sacred cave where they would sacrifice a goat for fertility and a dog for purification. The priests would then take strips of the goat’s hide and dip them in sacrificial blood. They would slap women with these hides and plant them with the crop in the fields.

However, the Catholic Church successfully sought to “Christianize” these pagan rituals by subsuming them into the February 14 Valentine’s Day celebrations.

Although celebrating love in February continued for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until the 1800’s that chocolate became such an important part of Valentine’s Day. Although chocolate began as a luxury in the 1900’s it became a household staple.

According to, in 1961 Richard Cadbury invented the heart-shaped chocolate box, decorated with rosebuds, Cupids, and hearts, and now the rest is history.

Although the holiday may have started in a brutal way, it has evolved into a time to give love to others, in any form, and receive it from others in an abundance of ways that symbolize their love for one another.

The significance of love can be expressed in many ways, whether something platonic or romantic or something more. It can be said through bouquets of flowers or marrying in secret despite it being against the law.

Nonetheless, all types of love are important and making a holiday revolving around this love should be cherished by everyone.

Author: Plaid Press

Granada Hills Charter High School newspaper