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The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The bloody history of Valentine’s Day, how it morphed into the modern celebration

Emily Weigand
Photo of the popular Valentine’s Day candy conversation hearts. This treat dates back to 1847 and were originally used as throat lozenges. However, by the early 1900’s they became a sweet treat to gift to a friend or valentine.

Trigger Warning: Violence

Each year on Feb. 14, couples across the world give each other candy, cards and flowers to celebrate Valentine’s Day. While this holiday is widely celebrated, few know about its history. 

Although there is no confirmed story about its origins, historians with National Geographic believe the holiday is an evolved version of the Ancient Roman celebration known as Lupercalia. 

According to the University of Chicago, Lupercalia was celebrated annually Feb. 13-15. The festival was named to honor the “she-wolf” who raised Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, as well as to please Lupercus, the God of wild animals, who helped the she-wolf raise the brothers. 

The festival commenced with a sacrifice from an order of priests called the Luperci. The Luperci would slaughter a goat and dog to promote fertility and purity. The blood of these animals was then smeared upon the foreheads of the Luperci in the cave in which Romulus and Remus were raised. After cooking the slain animals, a large sacrificial feast was held. Following the dinner, men would whip women with the hides of the animals as it was believed this would bring fertility. Finally, to end the celebration, women’s names would be placed into an urn and men would draw a name to be coupled with the next year, often resulting in marriage. 

In 494 AD, Pope Gelasius I forbade participation in Lupercalia in an attempt to further Christianize the newly Catholic empire. Gelasius dedicated the holiday to Saint Valentine, named it Valentine’s Day and moved its celebration to Feb. 14. 

The holiday began to popularize as it spread to other Christian areas such as France and England. People in these areas began to associate the holiday with spring, as it usually coincided with the changing of the season. This meant that as plants began to bloom with the new season, women would give bouquets of flowers to their Valentines. 

By the turn of the 19th century the beloved character Cupid also began to be associated with Valentine’s Day. The cherub baby was derived from the Roman god of love, who according to Roman mythology would shoot people with his magical bow and arrow and trick them into falling in love. 

Candy sweets became tradition when the British chocolate company Cadbury released the first chocolate heart box in 1861. After being eaten, the box would be used to store a lock of hair or love letters from your valentine. The treat popularized and became a classic symbol of the modern Valentine’s Day. 

What is your favorite part of Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments.

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About the Contributor
Emily Weigand
Emily Weigand, Staff Writer, Photographer
Senior Emily Weigand is a staff writer and photographer for Southpaw and Bearing News. In her free time, she likes to read, write, cook and listen to music.

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