A few more weeks and we will again be celebrating the love month. Indeed, Valentine’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays, especially among lovers. But how did the tradition of gift-giving during Valentine’s Day come to be? Here, let us talk about its history.
History of Valentine’s Day
For years, Valentine’s Day has been celebrated as a day for romance, love, and kisses. However, do you know that this festive day of hearts has a dark beginning? Valentine’s Day is said to have originated in Rome, derived from the ancient pagan rituals of the Romans called Lupercalia. Lupercalia was celebrated by the Romans from February 13 to 15.
To start the festivities of the Lupercalia, Roman priests would assemble inside the cave where Romulus and Remus were believed to have been taken care of by the she-wolf Lupa. They would kill a goat and a dog and would put the animals’ blood on their foreheads. They would make strips out of the goat’s hide, dip these into the animal’s blood, and use them to hit women on the streets. The women during those times welcomed the lashes as they believed that being hit with the bloodied goat hide could make them fertile.
The young women would then put their names in an urn, where they will have the chance of getting matched with bachelors.
By the end of the fifth century, Lupercalia declared February 14 as a day to celebrate the martyrdom of St. Valentine. Since then, Valentine’s Day has become a day of love and gift-giving.
Who was St. Valentine?
St. Valentine officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church was a man who died as a martyr in A.D. 270. He was believed to have been beheaded by Emperor Claudius II because of helping couples wed under Christianity. It was also believed that St. Valentine tried to convince the emperor to become a Christian during his imprisonment. Emperor Claudius was said to have been enraged, so he ordered St. Valentine to reject his faith or to face beheading. St. Valentine stood his ground, so he was beheaded.
History has a confusing account of this story, though, as there were other martyrs who also carry this name. One other account is that the Valentine where Valentine’s Day was derived from was the Bishop of Terni who was beheaded by Claudius II in the borders of Rome.
Gift-Giving on Valentine’s Day
The tradition of giving gifts on February 14 can be traced back to the 17th century. During those times, roses were given to women as a symbol of love. As years passed, this tradition of gift-giving slowly changed, with men looking for more ways to please their women.
In 1415, the giving of the first Valentine’s card was recorded. The card was handmade by Charles the Duke of Orleans, who was imprisoned in the Tower of London. On it was a poem he wrote for his dear wife. By the 16th century, greeting cards have become a trend and it became even more popular by the 19th century.
These days, all types of gifts are given on Valentine’s Day, with gift stores selling all sorts of items symbolic of love and passion. Chocolates, flowers, and teddy bears are the norm, but many are also giving other items as Valentine’s gifts. These can range from books, personalized stamps, personalized pillowcases, sweatshirts, bags, and many more.
Technology and Valentine’s Day
With modern technology making it possible for people to buy and send gifts to loved ones without leaving their homes, gift-giving on Valentine’s Day has become even more popular. These days, lovers no longer need to be together physically to be able to give or receive gifts. They also do not need to wait for months anymore to air their love for each other.
New technologies, such as the Internet and mobile phones have made it possible for partners to communicate and celebrate Valentine’s Day even if they are oceans apart. Likewise, unlike ancient Romans where women had to place their names in an urn and wait to be matched, women and men can now meet virtually and get to know each other through online platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many more.
Indeed, Valentine’s Day has changed so much from being a festival with a scandalous history to one filled with love and passion. Today, there is no more indication of the ancient Romans’ Lupercalia or the abuse suffered by women during those times. Today’s Valentine’s Day is all about love, devotion, and gift-giving.