The History of Valentine’s Day

The History of Valentine’s Day

The origins of Valentine’s Day trace back to the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia. Held on February 15, Lupercalia honored the gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.

In addition to a bountiful feast, Lupercalia festivities are purported to have included the pairing of young women and men. Men would draw women’s names from a box, and each couple would be paired until next year’s celebration.

While this pairing of couples set the tone for today’s holiday, it wasn’t called “Valentine’s Day” until a priest named Valentine came along. Valentine, a romantic at heart, disobeyed Emperor Claudius II’s decree that soldiers remain bachelors. Claudius handed down this decree believing that soldiers would be distracted and unable to concentrate on fighting if they were married or engaged. Valentine defied the emperor and secretly performed marriage ceremonies. As a result of his defiance, Valentine was put to death on February 14.

After Valentine’s death, he was named a saint. As Christianity spread through Rome, the priests moved Lupercalia from February 15 to February 14 and renamed it St. Valentine’s Day to honor Saint Valentine.

What’s Cupid Got to Do with It?

According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Cupid was known to cause people to fall in love by shooting them with his magical arrows. But Cupid didn’t just cause others to fall in love – he himself fell deeply in love.

As legend has it, Cupid fell in love with a mortal maiden named Psyche. Cupid married Psyche, but Venus, jealous of Psyche’s beauty, forbade her daughter-in-law to look at Cupid. Psyche, of course, couldn’t resist temptation and sneaked a peek at her handsome husband. As punishment, Venus demanded that she perform three hard tasks, the last of which caused Psyche’s death.

Cupid brought Psyche back to life and the gods, moved by their love, granted Pysche immortality. Cupid thus represents the heart and Psyche the (struggles of the) human soul.

Fun Facts

  • Approximately 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year. Half of those are sent through Care2 (OK, maybe not HALF… or even half of half… but we are growing fast!)
  • In order of popularity, Valentine’s Day cards are given to: teachers, children, mothers, wives, sweethearts, Koko the gorilla.
  • The expression “wearing your heart on your sleeve” comes from a Valentine’s Day party tradition. Young women would write their names on slips of paper to be drawn by young men. A man would then wear a woman’s name on his sleeve to claim her as his valentine.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Seven Things Not To Do on Valentine’s Day

Seven Things Not To Do on Valentine’s Day

  • Mel, selected from DivineCaroline

By Lyndsay Rush, DivineCaroline

Ahhh, Feburary 14. The day of love. The day that Cupid works for all year. The day Hallmark cashes in on our emotions.

For some people, February 14 is just another day. And this year, just another Sunday. Whether you’re indifferent, upset, or excited, there are some things you just shouldn’t do on this lovers’ holiday:

1. Go on a first date.
I would like to shake my fist at whoever suggests this as a way to spend Valentine’s Day. First dates are hard enough as it is without the added pressure of taking place on a holiday like this. Chances are you’ll either spend the evening with false expectations, hoping he’s “The One,” or you’ll spend the night miserable and wishing you were home in your pajamas. Valentine’s Day is NOT the day to take a dating risk. Reschedule for the next day and question his sanity if going out on Valentine’s Day was his idea.

2. Complain.
There is nothing worse than hearing someone spend all day complaining about their lack of prospects, heartache, or ticking biological clock. Save yourself some dignity, throw out a few snarky jokes about being single if you must, and then save it for your journal. Negativity begets negativity and you will feel the effects of being a downer all day. And so will everyone around you.

3. Call your ex.
ABORT! I repeat, ABORT! If you are considering this as you look tearfully out your bedroom window with The Holiday soundtrack playing in the background, ABORT! On a day like this it’s natural to have your thoughts drift to the last person you were with, but you broke up for a reason and even Cupid can’t create a day big enough to change that. Avoid the Valentine’s Day emotional hangover and don’t attempt a reconnect.

 

4. Reenact MTV Spring Break.
The last thing you need to do is drink your way out of this holiday. While it is perfectly acceptable (and fun!) to dress up and go out with your girlfriends on V-Day, don’t channel your inner “Senior year spring break.” Remember, this is just another day on the calendar and you taking four tequila shots is not going to fix anything about your love life.

5. Take yourself for granted.
This is a big one. Do whatever it takes to get perspective on life amidst the flower, candy, and romance-induced mayhem. Your worth and value as a human being and sister, daughter, friend is in no way influenced by your relationship status. Keep your chin up and focus on what you have accomplished this year or what you hope to accomplish in the future. You are loved and valued for more than your ability to snag a significant other.

6. Be alone.
The chances of the above “not to-dos” occurring is exponentially higher if you’re alone on Valentine’s Day. Gather with friends over dinner. Get some pals and go see a flick. Open a bottle of champagne with your best friend. Do whatever it takes to surround yourself with love. This is one of the best ways to ensure you spend the night having fun and focusing on the wonderful, non-romantic loves in your life.

7. Overlook the good in your life.
This one goes along with the “taking yourself for granted” no-no. Although it’s easy to be swept up by romantic comedies, candlelight dinners, past lovers, roses, chocolates, teddy bears, and diamonds, there is much in life that is equally–if not more–important. Try making a list of blessings in your life. From “roof over my head” to “amazing nail polish collection,” pen all of the things in your life that make it excellent. We need reminders of this every day and not just Valentine’s Day.

At the end of the day, what really matters is a healthy perspective on February 14 and all that comes along with it. In no way do I mean to imply that this should be a day of doom and gloom to those of us who are not currently in a relationship, but I offer this list as an opportunity to maintain perspective amidst a wildly commercial day focused on romantic love. Cheers to a day full of love–in whatever way it reveals itself to you!