History, origins, legends of Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day, the day of love that some people swoon over and some celebrate by eating chocolates alone in their bed. The opinions on this holiday vary drastically, but let’s first look at the history before we judge the nature of it. 

It first started as a pagan Roman ritual named Lupercalia where men used sacrificed goats and dogs as whips on women. Don’t worry, these women eagerly waited in line for these whippings because they thought it would help them with fertility. 

Sometime after that, a man named Pope Gelasius I added in a praising of the Saint Valentine to this holiday so that it became a little less morbid, mostly by ridding it of the pagan rituals. 

As time passed, the holiday became sweeter as poets like Shakespeare started romanticizing it in their works. One poet by the name of Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem linking the emotion of love directly to Saint Valentine’s day. After that, many other writers started to talk about this new day of showing affection to a significant other. 

It took time for this holiday to become more well known and linked to the exchange of sappy cards that we know today. When Hallmark Cards started mass-producing these lavish cards in 1913 is when this holiday really became popular. 

An average of $17.6 billion is spent on Valentine’s cards and gifts each year. In retrospect, Halloween’s average spending across the country is only $8.8 billion. I find that difference surprising seeing that Halloween seems to be much more accepted than Valentine’s Day. 

You still might be wondering, “Well, why is chocolate a Valentine’s Day staple?” and the answer is due to a guy named Casanova. He believed that chocolate had magical aphrodisiac capabilities, eventually labeling it the “elixir of love.” 

Seeing that Valentine’s Day is labeled as a day of showing affection for a loved one, it’s not hard to guess why giving an aphrodisiac to them is so crazy. At first cocoa was expensive, but as it grew cheaper to produce, chocolate became more and more popular. The first box of chocolates was produced in 1847 which gave wave to the adorned boxes that we all know today. 

Now I know what you’re thinking. It’s a day for Hallmark to just make money off of love-sick puppies. But I honestly don’t mind it for a couple of reasons. One, it’s an excuse to dress up to go out and celebrate (and hopefully have dinner paid for if you know what I mean.) And two, hopefully there’s some chocolate and flowers involved. And if you’re single? Well that’s why a thing called Galentine’s Day is so popular ladies. 

Go out and have fun with your friends and celebrate the love you have for your friendship. Sounds cheesy, I know. But it’s still an excuse to go out and have fun in my opinion. 

Whether you have a significant other to go out on a date with, friends to celebrate with or prefer to use this holiday to sit with self-bought chocolates, this holiday really isn’t that bad. And if you really do despise it for any reason, think of the half-off chocolate you can buy the next day.


The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.

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