The History of Valentine’s Day

By Gayot Editors

In the movie “Don Juan DeMarco,” Johnny Depp says, “There are four questions of value in life… What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.

That impossible-to-define and sometimes seemingly impossible-to-reach force, which has driven most literature and art from time immemorial, is celebrated in many countries around the world on February 14, a day designated as St. Valentine’s Day.

As with most traditions, Valentine’s Day has evolved over many centuries. Pre-Christian ancient Rome celebrated the beginning of spring as well as Lupercalia, a fertility festival, in mid-February. Cleansing and purification rituals were performed to honor Faunus, the god of agriculture, as well as the twins Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome.

Part of the festivities included a sort of “love lottery,” in which young women placed their names in a giant urn; young men would pick at random a name, and whoever they chose would be their companion for a year, often resulting in marriage. Christian elements would later join this “pagan” holiday.

It is widely believed that in the third century, a priest named Valentine went against Emperor Cladius II’s orders and performed marriage ceremonies for young men in the military. His disobedience led to his imprisonment and death, but not before he too fell in love and left the first Valentine to his beloved: legend has it that before he was killed, he left a love letter to the jailer’s daughter, signed “Your Valentine.”

Almost two centuries later, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day. During the Middle Ages, the French and English believed that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, adding a “coupling” element to the day that has lasted ever since.

Most of us fall into one of two Valentine’s Day camps. Some see it as a sweet, romantic holiday where expressions of love are encouraged, while others regard it as a commercially driven excuse to spend lots of money on something you should be doing anyway, telling your loved one you care. Whatever your views are, chances are if you are part of a couple, you will end up doing something special for your significant other on February 14. Otherwise, be careful about showing your face the next day!

While hopeless romantics might not need any advice when it comes to planning the perfect rendezvous, we’re more than happy to aid the helpless romantics arrange a romance-filled Valentine’s Day to tell their sweetheart just how much they care. From intimate dinners to very intimate presents, we’ll help make this Valentine’s Day the sweetest (and steamiest) one yet!