The History of Valentine’s Day


Getty Images/iStockphoto

Photo Courtesy of “Getty Images”

Everyone knows the holiday on February 14th: Valentine’s Day! It is the holiday that celebrates love all around the world. You might remember passing out cards and candies in early elementary school, but once you begin to get older, the holiday seems to have more meaning. Sharing the day with a special partner is very different than with a classroom of other kids. 

Whether or not you like this holiday, you should at least know how it began. How did this month of romance start? No one knows the exact origin of this holiday, and many historians argue about which story is true. Even theories made about this holiday don’t seem to be true. But what we believe to be true are two main stories that can be tied to our Valentine’s Day traditions.

Our first story started with a man named St. Valentine, during the third century in Rome. The Emperor at the time believed that a single man or an unmarried man was more powerful and made better soldiers. The Emperor outlawed young men to get married during this time, but Valentine wouldn’t have this. Realizing the injustice of the law, he began to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. Eventually, his actions were discovered by the Emperor. Due to his actions, it was ordered that they put him to death, and they beheaded Valentine outside of Rome. A tragic story that shows how love carries on even when threatened.

The second story suggests Valentine was imprisoned for helping people escape Rome’s prisons, which were known to beat and torture their prisoners. While Valentine was placed in prison, he fell in love with the blind girl that would visit his cell every day, who was possibly the jailer’s daughter. St. Valentine allegedly cured her blindness, giving her the ability to see again. The day Valentine was going to be put to death, February 14th, the girl visited him one more time. Here, she found a letter signed “From your Valentine.” This tragic story gave us our tradition of a phrase we still say to this day when passing out candies and letters.

Even though these stories cannot be proven completely accurate, they both display the love and tradition behind Valentine’s Day. St. Valentine was a sympathetic, heroic, and romantic figure of this holiday. These stories let us know that under any circumstances, love will shine.