Origins of Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day rolls around every February — some of us love it, some of us hate it and some of hate it most years, but love it when we have a significant other to spend it with (guilty!). This year, I'm hating on Valentine's Day, but that's not the point.
Where did this over-commercialized holiday, one that seems to be more about candy and flowers and presents than true love, even originate? Was it always like this? Not so much.
According to history.com, the history of Valentine's Day is shrouded in mystery, but it is common knowledge that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as it is formally known today, has roots in both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. The question is, who exactly was Saint Valentine?
According to the Catholic Church, there were at least three different saints named either Valentine or Valentinus, and all of them were martyred.
Some stories suggest that Valentine may have been executed for helping Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. One legend suggests that an imprisoned Valentine was the first one to send a "valentine" greeting after he fell in love with a girl who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, he supposedly wrote her a letter signed "From Your Valentine."
Valentine may also have been a priest who served during the third century in Rome, during the time when marriage was illegal for young men because Emperor Claudius II believed single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. According to this tale, Valentine defied Claudius, continuing to perform marriages for young lovers in secret, and so he was put to death.
We many never know which, if any, versions of the history are true, or if there is another Valentine out there who truly originated the holiday. Still, it's clear that the roots of Valentine's Day are pretty romantic — and pretty tragic.
Maybe it's gotten kind of cheesy and commercialized, and like I said, I'm kind of hating on the holiday this year. But there's no denying that taking some time out of your day to let someone special, whether a boyfriend, girlfriend or best friend, know that you care about them is a pretty good tradition to honor. And, to put things in perspective, as my friend said: "Don't complain too much if you find yourself single on Valentine's Day, it's not the end of the world. That sh#t is still 10 months away."