Q:

Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day?

A:

Quick Answer

Historians trace the origins of Valentine's Day to the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalia, which was celebrated each year between Feb. 13 and Feb. 15. During the feast, men sacrificed a dog and a goat and then used the skins to strike women who believed the whippings would make them fertile. As time went on, Christian leaders superimposed a celebration of the martyred St. Valentine on the feast.

Know More
Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day?
Credit: Jade Blend Images Getty Images

Full Answer

The feast of Lupercalia also featured a tradition in which names were drawn and young men and young women paired off for the duration of the celebration. If they took to one another, they would marry soon after the feast was over.

Meanwhile, in the third century, St. Valentine ignored Roman Emperor Claudius II's ban on marriage for young men in his army. The saint presided over their marriages anyway, an act of defiance for which he was executed. However, the Catholic Church later honored him with his own holiday.

In the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I combined St. Valentine's Day with Lupercalia in hopes of quashing the pagan rituals and drawing more attention to the Church. Despite the pope's intentions, the day continued to be celebrated with romantic love in mind. William Shakespeare further romanticized Valentine's Day in "Hamlet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream," causing it to gain traction throughout Europe.

In the Middle Ages, the exchange of cards between lovers became a tradition. This practice made its way to the New World, where factory-made cards eventually took the celebration of Valentine's Day to a mass-marketing level.

Learn more about Valentines Day

Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why is Valentine's Day so important?

    A:

    The importance of Valentine’s Day lies in the fact that it celebrates love. It is a day of romance and for forming relationships that can last a lifetime. For many, it provides a nice contrast to the hatred and violence rampant in society.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are some homemade Valentine's Day ideas for him?

    A:

    One homemade Valentine's Day idea for him is to create an upscale, old-fashioned barber shop experience. The treat can include putting him a comfortable reclining chair, wrapping warm towels around his face, head and neck, and then as he relaxes comfortably, offer him a glass of premium Scotch or one of his favorite expensive beverages. Then, give him a leisurely shave.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What day was Saint Valentine canonized?

    A:

    Saint Valentine was canonized on February 14, 496 AD by Pope Gelasius. Catholic lore states that Saint Valentine was a holy priest in Rome who was arrested for opposing Claudius' rule, and then executed for refusing to denounce his faith.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Who invented Valentine's Day?

    A:

    At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th to be St. Valentine's Day, according to History.com. The day did not become associated with love until the 15th century, when the first written valentines began to appear.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore