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EST. 1915

The History of Valentine's Day

Sarah Haug


With the passing of the first month since the beginning of the new year, Valentine’s Day becomes the next celebrated holiday on the calendar. Valentine’s Day is a distinct holiday celebrating those around us who we appreciate and love, typically thought of in a romantic way. It is a day to remind those who are meaningful in our lives just how much they matter and how they enrich our existence as social beings on this planet.

The opinion on the festivities of February 14th differ greatly between each individual, with one end of the spectrum claiming that it is a “holiday made by Hallmark” while the other polarized end believes it is the absolute most romantic day of the year, reserved for grand gestures and indulgence. Both opinions hold a bit of truth; Valentine’s Day is the second-most popular card sending holiday, following Christmas. There are approximately 150 million cards exchanged each year in an attempt to express feelings through the written language. Additionally, many go great lengths to woe their significant other with gifts, and it is the day with more marriage proposals than any other in the year. History tells us that there has been a view of Valentine’s Day that falls somewhere in between the polarized outlooks that society now possesses.

The holiday originally was created to celebrate the life of St. Valentine, but there are theories pertaining to which of the multiple St. Valentine’s was the particular catalyst for the holiday. One theory is based off of the St. Valentine who was a priest that continued to marry young lovers in secret after Emperor Claudius II outlawed the marriage of young men to encourage them to be better soldiers. The other Valentine was an individual who helped Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were ridiculed and beaten. Both exhibited the heroic doctrine that love trumps violence, but ultimately they also had a similar fates and were executed for their acts of kindness and defiance.

Even though this holiday has been recognized for around 1,750 years, it is important to note that Valentine’s Day is not celebrated in every country, and the way it is celebrated has morphed significantly into what we know today. It was not until the Middle Ages that the type of love the day signified turned toward a more romantic nature. Today, some individuals choose to not celebrate the holiday on the basis that they currently lack a significant other. However, those that feel this way could instead focus on those in their life who they love, including friends and family and make their appreciation known.

Today, Valentine’s Day usually includes chocolates, flowers, cards, and gifts exchanged amongst lovers and friends. Many have fond memories of exchanging Valentine’s Day cards when they were younger, with cute and catchy sayings. Keep this child-like bliss alive this year while being grateful for how loved each of us are and giving those around us a reminder of what exactly this day signifies to you individually.

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