By William Chen
Valentine’s Day is a time where people give gifts and cards to show their affection to someone they care about. This annual event originated back in Ancient Rome around the year of 270 A.D.
Valentine’s Day back then did not start off very brightly, such as people showing their love to their special someone or giving gifts such as flowers, decorated cards or sweet treats. Instead, this holiday has evolved throughout centuries full of martyrdom, religious politics, beheadings and consumerism to become the holiday which is presently known to celebrate love and affection.
Back then, a holiday for the ritual known as the Lupercalia held on Feb. 13 was celebrated. The Roman priests would offer animals up for tribute and use the hides from the animals they had slain to whip women with them.
According to University of Colorado at Boulder historian Noel Lenski, he said, “The Roman romantics were drunk. They were naked. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them. They believed this would make them fertile.”
This old event also held a matchmaking lottery that matched men by drawing out their names of women. The matched couples were paired up for the duration of the festival.
Despite this merciless tradition, Emperor Claudius II was having trouble recruiting more soldiers to expand his army. The emperor realized that men refused to join the army so they could stay at home and take care of their wife and children. He thought that love and marriage made people weak, so he announced to all of Ancient Rome that love and marriage was forbidden.
Meanwhile, a Roman priest and physician known as Saint Valentine went against the emperor’s law by secretly wedding couples. Eventually, he was caught and arrested. The emperor then passed his verdict upon St. Valentine to be executed. Before his execution, St. Valentine wrote a letter to the prison guard’s daughter after her father asked St. Valentine to cure her daughter from blindness. The letter said, “From your Valentine.” On Feb. 14, St. Valentine was beheaded.
Afterwards, William Shakesphere and Geoffrey Chaucer helped romanticize this event known as Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 named after St. Valentine and the same day he was executed.