The Real Story of Valentine’s Day

When you think of Valentine’s Day, you’re probably thinking of flowers, chocolates, and kissing notes, not whipping women with dead animals or martyrdom. But it turns out that this sweet and loving commercial holiday is rooted in pagan rituals and good old Christian rebranding. Oh, and I’ll sell you cards.

Historians aren’t 100% sure about the origins of Valentine’s Day, but many believe it started with a pre-Roman empire ritual known as Lupercalia , which sounded like a scream. Every year on February 13-15, goats and dogs were sacrificed on the altar by the Lupers (or “wolf brothers”) as an offering. After that, people were anointed with the blood of animals, rubbed with wool dipped in milk (as people do), and feasted until they got drunk and got drunk. Then came the best part: the Luperians took the skins of the sacrificial animals and ran naked, spanking people with them. This is how Plutarch describes the festivities :

… many noble youths and magistrates run around the city naked, amusing themselves and laughing, striking those they meet with their furry thongs. And many high-ranking women also deliberately get in their way and, like children at school, hold out their hands to be hit, believing that in this way they will help pregnant women in childbirth, and infertile ones in childbirth.

Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder, also notes that a sort of “matchmaking lottery” was held during the festival . The men would randomly pull the female names out of the jar and then “match” them during the festival. Now that I s a holiday.

Then ladies and gentlemen – drum roll please – the Catholic Church came. They didn’t really care about blood, nudity, and sacrifice. By the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I decided to create a new holiday right on top of the old pagan one so that people would forget about it. He said, and I quote, “Stop beating bitches with dead animals,” and called it Valentine’s Day after two Christian martyrs named Valentine – Valentine of Rome and Valentine Terni, both of whom were accidentally executed by a Roman. Emperor Claudius Gothic II on February 14 in two different years in the 3rd century AD. What are the odds? Quite good, actually, as the Romans executed almost everyone who was Christian at the time. Be that as it may, at that moment the celebration of Lupercalia was practically prohibited.

But has this prevented people from achieving fertility at this time of year? Never! The Normans (the first northern French to descend from Norwegians) celebrated Galatina’s Day at this time of year instead of Valentine’s. “Galatin” meant “lover” or “gallant”, so they did, and it is even believed that at some point this name was confused with the name “Valentine”. Eventually, during the Middle Ages in Europe, this day gradually became associated with romantic love. In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in his Parlement of Foules :

“Because it was the day of Saint Volantine, and Uery Breed came here to buy his products.”

After all, it was on Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes here to choose a mate.

The poem was dedicated to the first anniversary of King Richard II’s engagement to Anne of Bohemia, and is largely considered the first written occasion that Valentine’s Day is associated with romantic love rather than fertility or lustful pursuits. In addition, in England and France, it was believed that the mating period in birds begins on February 14 , hence the line in Chaucer’s poem. They were just around the corner. By the time the Julian calendar became Gregorian, February 14 had actually become the 23rd, which is the time when some birds in England begin to mate and nest. Either way, it added to the idea that Valentine’s Day was for romance. By 1415, people were writing handmade valentines to each other, as in the famous poem by Charles, Duke of Orleans, Farewell with Love, which was sent to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. And by the time of Shakespeare – “Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, it’s time all morning, and I’m the maid at your window to be your Valentine” – the romantic version of Valentine’s Day that we all know about has become popular in almost all countries. Europe.

Around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, Valentine’s Day evolved from a small historic day of romance to a full-fledged money tree. The new era of mechanical engineering paved the way for the mass production of factory cards that could be easily bought and passed on to those they cared for on special occasions. In 1913, Hallmark Cards offered ready-made valentines, and in 1916 they began to be mass-produced . Romance Day was reborn as a commercial holiday. Since then, the day has been not only about buying trashy postcards for transfer to third grade, but also about buying flowers, candy, jewelry and unsuccessful attempts to book a table in decent restaurants. Love is still in the air, but there is no doubt that holiday is more “sundry” than romance these days. It almost makes you miss the days of old.

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