Valentine’s Day, a day of romance, is a social custom celebrated on the 14th of February when lovers express their feelings with gifts and cards. This holiday has expanded and also includes the expression of affection among friends and relatives.
The origin can be found in the pre-Christian Rome festival of Lupercalia. This Roman festival celebrated the approaching season of spring and began with animal sacrifices, mostly goats and a dog. It is also associated with the god Faunus, an ancient rural deity. Pope Gelasius I renamed this day as St. Valentine’s Day at the end of the 5th century.
Who was Saint Valentine?
St. Valentine is known as the patron of lovers. The historical accounts vary when it comes to his history. Some sources describe him as a Roman priest and physician who was killed during the persecution of Christians by the emperor Marcus Aurelius Claudius II Gothicus. Other sources identify Valentine as the bishop of Terni in Italy. However, it may be the case that these different versions are of the same account and actually refer to the same person.
According to the common legend, St. Valentine disobeyed the emperor’s order of not holding any wedding ceremonies. He secretly married couples to spare the men from war and was murdered because of his disobedience.
The origin of the Valentine’s card
Valentine messages appeared in the 15th century. They are regarded as the forerunner of the greeting card. Commercially printed cards were first used in the late 1700s. They most often depict Cupid, the Roman god of love, hearts or birds.
Britannica. 2021. Saint Valentine. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Valentine#ref1290121. [Accessed 11 February 2021].
Britannica. 2021. Valentines Day. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Valentines-Day. [Accessed 11 February 2021].
Written by Victoria Milhan, Schuman Communication Trainee Terminology Coordination Unit. She holds master’s degrees in English Language (linguistics) and Medieval English Literature, Newer English Literature and Celtic Studies. Victoria is enrolled as a PhD student at Bonn University in Germany.