The Lovely History of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is seen today as a time for fancy dinners, romantic movies, and boxes of heart-shaped chocolate. While these festivities are certainly part of the holiday, they only represent the modern interpretation of Valentine’s Day. Many are unaware of the holiday’s rich origin. 

Valentine’s Day was named after the Catholic priest and doctor Saint Valentine. Not much is known about his life before he joined the Catholic church. In Rome, where Valentine preached, marriages were outlawed by Emperor Claudius II because he thought they would get in the way of recruiting men for his army. When Claudius found out that Valentine was marrying people against the law, Valentine was sent to jail. He used his time in jail to reach out to people using the love that he felt was given to him by Jesus Christ. 

As Valentine was in jail, he befriended his cellmate’s daughter, Julia, who was blind and needed someone to read to her. Emperor Claudius also came to like Valentine and agreed to pardon him if he agreed to renounce his Christian faith and worship the Roman gods instead. Not only did Valentine refuse to do this, but he also encouraged Claudius to trust in him and in Christ. These actions cost Valentine his life, as Claudius was so enraged that he sentenced Valentine to death. On the day of his martyr, Feb. 14, Valentine wrote his last note to Julia, signing it, “From your Valentine.” 

Over the years, Valentine’s Day has been celebrated as both a religious holiday and a commercial holiday. No matter how it is celebrated, Valentine’s Day is more than candies, flowers, and stuffed bears; it can be recognized by anyone, anywhere. This special holiday can be celebrated with family, with friends, or by oneself. Self-love is just as important as showing love for others.

LHS students and staff have many different ways of celebrating Valentine’s Day. English teacher Roseanne Mitchell says she spends the day reading at home with her dog, Chaucer, or eating cake with the “little people” in her life–her toddler-aged niece and nephew–and her mother. 

Social studies teacher David Rabinowitz celebrates the holiday with his wife and children. According to him, Valentine’s Day “is fun for young couples and children” as they come together to celebrate. After being asked what he received on this special day, Rabinowitz responded, “Love!”

Junior Sophia Scorcia said that Valentine’s Day is very important to her “since it is a day of love.” She celebrates this day with her parents, and she buys them gifts and makes them homemade cards. Junior Alyssa Inserra also plans to celebrate this day with her parents. She believes that Valentine’s Day is “not just a day to celebrate romantic love but also familial love, which is something that is invaluable and cannot be replaced.”

The origin of this romantic holiday can remind people to celebrate their loved ones and take time to appreciate those in their lives. In a time where marriage and romance were outlawed in Rome, people still found ways to celebrate their love. Now, this holiday is seen as a time of pink and red hearts, flowers, and chocolates. Some of its historical meaning may have been lost, but by remembering the story of Valentine’s Day, this holiday can be recognized in its true way.