As you get ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your significant other or with a Valentine’s Day party, you might find yourself asking, “Why are we doing this? What’s so special about Feb. 14?” As it turns out, Valentine’s Day has a past rooted in romance, but also involves slapping people with goat hides, martyred saints, and cards in the Middle Ages.
You might want to incorporate some of these ideas as you check out Valentine’s Day party ideas for your get-together. Well, the ideas about love and paper cards, anyway. The rest of it is surprisingly dark and just a little bit strange, although each also has its own romantic connections – sort of.
We’ve looked at the history of other special days and games, but few are as interesting as Valentine’s Day. That’s because the holiday most associated with love started during the Roman empire and a famous, believe it or not, execution.
The genesis of Valentine’s Day is somewhat shrouded in mystery, but it originally may have involved the execution of an early Catholic Church leader named Valentine (or Valentinus), according to History.com. However, there is a romantic angle. Roman Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men because he believed soldiers without wives and children fought harder. But Valentine, thinking the law unfair, continued to perform wedding ceremonies for young lovers. Now, now there’s a commitment to love! Unfortunately, he eventually got caught and Claudius had him executed. The church later made him a saint.
The Romans had their own holiday, called Lupercalia, held in the month of February. It involved a celebration that focused on warning off evil spirits and purifying the city. Roman men sacrificed a goat, dipped strips of hide from the animal in blood, then used these hides to gently slap women, who welcomed it because they believed it made them more fertile. They also slapped the fields with these goat hides, believing it led to a better growing season. Toward the end of the festival, women would place their names in an urn, then have them drawn by men who would be their partner for the coming year. These pairings sometimes turned into marriage.
Pope Gelasius I served as pope from March 1 492 AD until he died on Nov. 19 496 AD. One of his acts that has stood the test of time was to take Lupercalia (assumedly minus the goat-hide slapping) and combine it with St. Valentine’s Day as part of the expelling of pagan rituals, according to Psychology Today.
Eventually, writers took hold of the stories of Valentine’s Day and began to write tales of love that led to associating the day with romance. These served as direct artistic ancestors to the romantic movies of the modern era. Eventually, people made handmade paper cards for the special day, as early as the Middle Ages.
Many interesting aspects of love have been discussed in and around Valentine’s Day, but here’s something to contemplate as you celebrate the day. The Greeks describe seven kinds of love, according to Psychology Today. They are as follows.
Now that you know a little of Valentine’s Day history, try to incorporate some of it into your special day. While some may think it’s a day made up by greeting card companies, it’s much, much more than that. While the circumstances have been different at different times, love has always played a big role in this special day.