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History of Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day in America has become the second most commercialized holiday: approximately 150 million cards are sent out each year. Many couples stress over bigger and better gifts than the people around them, all for the purpose of showing their affection for their significant other. Hundreds of dollars are spent on flowers, chocolates, and huge teddy bears that will later be thrown out when the relationship goes south. Why do we torture ourselves with this holiday? Where did it come from, and who decided it would be a great event for the world to celebrate?

   The holiday comes from both Pagan and Christian cultures. Originally, in the Ancient Roman days, the festival of Lupercalia was a celebration of fertility. It was dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus, and was celebrated in the middle of February. The festival started when members of an order of priests called the Luperci gathered in a sacred cave thought to have been the home of the founders of Rome. A goat would be sacrificed for fertility, and a dog would be sacrificed for purification. After this was performed, the priests would cut the goat’s skin into strips and dip them in the sacrificial blood. These strips would then be used to gently slap both women and crop fields. This was believed to make the women more fertile and the crops produce more agriculture.

  Later, with the rise of Christianity, this tradition was deemed un-Christian. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 15th as St. Valentine’s Day in honor of a Catholic saint who helped society in many ways. However, it was much later, around 1400 A.D., that Valentine’s Day became associated directly with love. The first person to send what is now known as a valentine was Charles, Duke of Orleans. He sent a poem declaring his love in 1415 to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London after his capture in one of the many battles fought in the Middle Ages.

  Over the years, as the holiday grew more popular and reached many countries, it became more of a competition than a genuine show of affection. Today, showy flowers, cheap chocolates, and gigantic teddy bears can be seen in all of the seasonal aisles in superstores all over the country. Temporary flings to long term couples buy each other gifts, constantly trying to outdo the couple next to them. The modern world has turned Valentine’s Day into a shopping spree so that the original purpose of showing the heart of love to one another has been degraded.

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History of Valentine’s Day