As one legend has it, Valentines Day origin is rooted in an ancient Roman festival known as Lupercalis. Lupercalis or Lupercalia was actually known as a “Wolf Festival” among the non-Christianized populous. The roman pagans of the day celebrated this festival in a much different way than today’s sweets and cupids reveal.
The wolf festival was a fertility celebration observed every February 15th. Some historians think that it may have actually been celebrated from the thirteenth to the fifteenth of the month. Recognized by the Catholic church as a pagan celebration, and coming to the realization that they were nearly powerless at persuading potential converts from practicing such a festival, they devised a plan to cover it up and put it to rest.
As was the Church’s intent at erasing many of the pagan celebrations, covering up the original pagan ceremonial festival on this day would require naming another festival the church would celebrate concurrently. It was in 496 AD that Pope Gelasius redefined Lupercalia as a Christian feast day to honor another Christian martyr.
this feast was named to honor Saint Valentine, one of three martyrs holding the name of “Valentine” around that era. One was a bishop in Terni, another a priest in Rome, and a third was a “St. Valentine“ who met his demise in Africa. All three of whom the Catholic Church claims were martyred on February 14th.
Although it may have been Pope Gelasius’ intent to honor the priest in Rome with this declaration, it is the African “Valentine” that is most accepted as its martyr of remembrance that is credited for birthing the common Valentines Day origin.
Not until the fourteenth century did Valentine’s Day become associated with romance and love. In medieval England and France, it was an accepted belief that birds mated on February 14th. Birds as a symbol of love on many of the Valentine’s Day greeting cards of today came from that belief.
February 14th has become a major event on the calendar. At least for every guy who doesn’t care to take it on the chin from the gal in his life. To those whom this applies, Valentines Day origin has perpetuated into gift ideas that have certainly become the order of the day!
A good read covering more detail on this subject can be found here! The author does a great job at uncovering the legends behind the celebration.