The History of Valentine’s Day

Trishna Dahal

St. Valentine. Photo courtesy of Christian Broadcasting Network.

Valentine’s Day is an annual holiday that dates back to 496 A.D. It was first declared a holiday by Pope Gelasius. Despite being such a popular holiday, its origin is surrounded by myths and legends. Valentine’s Day is in honor of the two men named Valentine, Valentine of Rome, and Valentine of Terni, martyred in 269 A.D. and 273 A.D., respectively. However, there are inconsistencies in the origins of Valentine’s Day and the two Valentines could have been one person.

The first Valentine, a bishop from Interamna, had been imprisoned and martyred in Rome because he was marrying Christian couples and providing them aid. According to some accounts, he cured his jailer’s daughter of blindness before his death and signed her a note with “Your Valentine”, a line that’s been popularized in cards and even heart-shaped candy.

According to some legends, this holiday could have also originated from Lupercalia, a pagan festival celebrating health and fertility. Unlike Valentine’s Day, however, Lupercalia was a lot more bloody and violent as it involved animal sacrifices. 

Over the years, Valentine’s Day became closely associated with love and romance. More recently, companies began marketing chocolates, stuffed animals, and roses as the perfect gift to profit off this holiday.

Although any type of flower can be gifted during this holiday, roses (red ones in particular) are preferable because red roses have been the symbol of love and romance for hundreds of years

Aphrodite and Adonis. Photo courtesy of

. Their relation to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, makes these flowers a staple for Valentine’s Day celebrations.

According to myth, Aphrodite fell in love with a mortal named Adonis, who was the son of Myrrha and Theia. One day while Adonis was hunting, he came across a wild boar that charged at him, while Aphrodite was running towards him she pricked herself on the thorns of a rose bush and her blood turned the roses red. In other stories, Aphrodite’s tears mixed with Adonis’ blood and caused anemones to grow, unfortunately, anemones aren’t as popular as roses.

Although Valentine’s Day is most commonly associated with romance, it’s also a day to celebrate and appreciate friends and family. Galentine’s events, celebrations with a group of friends, is growing in popularity. At its’ core, Valentine’s Day is all about love whether it’s romantic or platonic.