The Origin of Valentine’s Day

The origin of Valentine’s Day is not entirely clear, and there are several theories about its beginnings. One popular belief is that Valentine’s Day has its roots in ancient Roman and Christian traditions.

One widely accepted theory links Valentine’s Day to a Christian martyr named St. Valentine. There were multiple Christian martyrs named Valentine, but the most commonly mentioned one is a priest in Rome during the third century AD. According to the legend, Emperor Claudius II had banned marriages for young men, believing that single men made better soldiers. St. Valentine defied this decree and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When his actions were discovered, he was arrested and eventually executed on February 14th, around the year 269 AD.

Another legend suggests that Valentine’s Day may have originated from the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated in mid-February. During Lupercalia, Roman priests would perform rituals to ensure fertility and protect against evil spirits. As part of the festivities, young men would draw the names of young women from a container, and they would then be paired for the duration of the festival, sometimes leading to marriage.

Over time, these ancient traditions merged, and the celebration evolved into a day associated with love and romance. By the Middle Ages, Valentine’s Day became more connected to romantic love, and the exchange of love notes and tokens became common.

It’s important to note that the exact origins of Valentine’s Day remain somewhat obscure, and the holiday has likely been influenced by a combination of historical events and cultural traditions over the centuries. Today, Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated as a day for expressing love and affection to romantic partners through cards, flowers, chocolates, and other tokens of affection.

A hand-cast and hand-painter pewter piece from our Wilhelm Schweizer Collection is a wonderful token of affection.