The History Behind Valentine’s Day

The History Behind Valentines Day

Elizabeth Atchley, Writer/Social Media

When the cold, wintry month of February rolls around, people start to think of that annual holiday of love on February 14: Valentine’s Day. Some people love the excuse to dress up or spend time with a significant other, others hate the holiday dedicated to a relationship they may not have. Nevertheless, the national holiday has more history and tradition behind it than many people care to understand.

According to, the origin of the Valentine story begins with the legend of St. Valentine, a patron saint recognized in the Roman Catholic Church and many Christian traditions. Catholicism recognizes three different saints with the name Valentine (or some variation); some stories suggest that Valentine was a Catholic priest in ancient Rome who married couples in secret after marriage had been outlawed, others say Valentine attempted to help Christians escape Roman prisons. Each story ends in his death, making him a martyred saint in the Catholic church. The legend of St. Valentine, whichever one it may be, still signifies love, sympathy, and compassion: all emotions very often correlated with the holiday.

However, none of this explains the meaning of Cupid, basically the mascot of Valentine’s Day. His story originates from the Roman god Cupid, coming from Greek mythology and the story of Eros, the god of love. His legend tells of his striking looks and immortality, as well as his golden arrow used to create romantic connections between people.

Each of these ancient traditions and legends have carried into modern culture with the popularized holiday of Valentine’s Day. Traditions such as writing letters to loved ones and giving gifts such as chocolates or bouquets of roses have lasted for a significant amount of American history, dedicating the holiday to expressing compassion for those we love most. So even if you’ll be single this Valentine’s Day, it’s always a good excuse to connect with beloved friends and family as well.