The Surprising History of Valentine’s Day
In the United States, Valentine’s Day is known as a time to celebrate the ones we care about most by giving flowers, chocolates, and love notes, usually with the earnest question: “Will You Be My Valentine?”
No matter how you mark Valentine’s day or who you celebrate it with, the thought has probably crossed your mind: Who is St. Valentine anyway, and what is the history of Valentine’s Day? This day of love and romance has a surprising origin, filled with a little more blood and violence than you might expect for a holiday championed by a chubby baby shooting love arrows.
As you prepare to ask your special someone to “Be Mine,” you’ll enjoy reading up on these Valentine’s Day facts, and how to incorporate the most romantic holiday of the year into your wedding plans.
The History of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day wasn’t always all cutesy Hallmark cards and conversation hearts. Here are a few surprising Valentine’s Day facts about the origin story of this holiday:
1. There was more than one St. Valentine.
In fact, there are St. Valentines aplenty on the official Roman Catholic roster of Saints, including a woman martyred in A.D. 308 (St. Valentina). And the St. Valentine who may be behind the holiday could be one (or both) of two different men, though similarities in the accounts of their lives suggest there may have been only one man. Both St. Valentines became martyrs on February 14 (though in different years) by Emperor Claudius II of Rome. One was executed for secretly officiating weddings for Christian Roman soldiers against the emperor’s wishes. Romantic, right?
2. Valentine is the patron saint of engaged couples … and epilepsy.
Catholic saints don’t get to take a vacation in the afterlife—they are charged with a number of holy duties that have them watching out for mortals and interceding on their behalf. St. Valentine’s responsibilities span quite a broad spectrum, including engaged couples and happy marriages (naturally), along with beekeeping, epilepsy, the plague, fainting, and traveling. So if you’re an engaged beekeeper prone to fainting spells, St. Valentine is your guy.
3. Valentine’s Day was established to replace a scandalous pagan holiday.
The Roman Catholic Church employed a number of tactics to encourage the Romans to turn from pagan practices to Christianity, including repurposing holidays. Pagan midwinter and spring celebrations became Christmas and Easter—and the fertility ritual known as Lupercalia became St. Valentine’s Day. On Lupercalia, naked, drunk men sacrificed goats and slapped young women with the animals’ flesh. These women lined up for this dubious honor, believing it would make them fertile. Couples were then assigned to, ahem, pair off for the night, and if the match was right, for longer.
4. Chaucer and Shakespeare set the stage for modern celebration
These two illustrious poets were among the first to record St. Valentine’s Day and popularize it as a celebration for lovers. Some historians believe it was Chaucer, not the Pope, to connect Valentine’s Day to romance. Drawing on tradition kept alive in Shakespeare’s day, the first Valentine’s Day cards hit the market in 1910, followed by the now traditional chocolates, stuffed animals, jewelry, etc.
Celebrating Valentine’s Day at Your Wedding
Storied past or not, St. Valentine’s Day today is a time of friendship, romantic love, and everything in between. From handmade cards to fine jewelry, everyone appreciates a token of affection and love this time of year.
If you’re planning your wedding, you might consider bringing the joy and love of Valentine’s day into your wedding celebration. If you’re undecided on a wedding color, why not incorporate red, the color of love, roses, and St. Valentine’s Day? Deep red splashed throughout your wedding will bring notes of passion and sparks of romance as you say your vows and dance the night away. And no, you don’t need a February wedding to add a splash of Valentine’s day to your decor.
Try these ideas to incorporate St. Valentine’s red into your wedding decor:
- Include roses or other red flowers in your wedding bouquet and in table settings.
- Scatter red rose petals down the aisle or on your wedding cake display.
- Red table runners, table settings, or ribbons on chairs.
- Wedding parties look great in red, from dresses or shoes to ties and boutonnieres.
For more ideas on how to incorporate some St. Valentine’s Day spirit into your beach destination wedding, visit the Pinterest board we have created.
Are you ready to plan your dream destination wedding, filled with romance and joy? Let’s get started planning your Mexico destination wedding. Contact our Adventure Wedding planners today.