Valentine’s Day

Erin Shetler

Although many people dislike Valentine’s day because of the commercial aspect, the popular holiday history is very interesting. Since Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for a very long time, it is not easy to trace its exact origins. The most well-known origin of the holiday came from the story of Saint Valentine. In the 260s C.E., Claudius II was the emperor of Rome. Claudius had made it illegal for any man in his army to marry so that they would not get emotionally attached. Of course, many of the soldiers thought that this law was very unfair. Saint Valentine, who was at the time a priest, went behind the back of the emperor and helped soldiers get married to their wives and spouses. Unfortunately, Claudius caught on to this and imprisoned Valentine as well as sentenced him to death. The story goes that Valentine fell in love with his guard’s daughter. On the day of his death (February 14th), Valentine sent her a letter, signed ‘From your Valentine,’ which is carried on today.

Another popular origin is that the day may come from the Roman festival of Lupercalia. The men in Rome would sacrifice a goat and dog to kick off the celebration. Then, they would use the hides of the sacrificed animals to whip women. This tradition was brutal, so thankfully, this part was not continued throughout history. However, there was a part that was more on track to Valentine’s day. The men in the festival drew names of women from a container. The two people would then spend the day together. This holiday was celebrated in mid-February and would kick offspring, which brought many to believe that this was the primary origin.

One of the signatures of Valentine’s day is the winged matchmaker, also known as Cupid. This, unlike the name of Valentine’s Day, has specific origins. According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Mars (the Roman equivalent of Aries and the God of war) and Venus (the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite and the Goddess of love). Cupid is most well known for the myth between him and Psyche. When Psyche’s father abandoned her, the God of the west wind brought her to a house where her future husband was waiting. Psyche found her husband, who was Cupid, in a dark room. Cupid told her that they could be happy together as long as Psyche did not know who he was. However, one night Psyche got curious and brought an oil lamp to Cupid’s room, where she saw God for the first time. She accidentally spilled the oil on him, and Cupid ran away. Psyche felt horrible for what she had done and went to find her husband. Venus found her and sent her to do near-impossible tasks, but Psyche was able to do everything. Her last task was to collect Persephone’s beauty and bring it back to Venus. Before Psyche made it back, she looked in the box where the beauty was kept, but instead, there was a deadly spell that killed Psyche. When Cupid found Psyche, he gave her nectar, the drink of the gods, which healed her and made her immortal.

A popular item on Valentine’s day is roses. People typically give their loved ones red roses, but each color rose means something different. The popular colors include purple, pink, yellow, orange, white, yellow with red tips and classic red. Purple or lavender roses mean love at first sight. Pink roses are typically the gifting flower since it represents beauty and grace. Yellow represents friendship and joy. Orange stands for excitement, enthusiasm and similar to yellow, it also represents joy. White is generally the rose that signified remembrance, sympathy, purity, and innocence. Yellow roses with red tips are famous for sending mixed messages. The yellow base represents friendship, while the red part represents attraction and love. This is the least popular out of the mix because it can be interpreted in very different ways.

Since it is now 2021 and we are still living through a pandemic, it is not easy to celebrate. Nevertheless, there are some ways that people can still observe Valentine’s day. Many applications offer a zoom-like movie experience where you stay on a call and watch a movie together. Another option is that both of you could make the same meal then dine together through a call. That way, you are your partner can both have dinner or any other meal together on Valentine’s day. Lastly, you can write each other letters and send them in the mail. This is an excellent and romantic gesture that does not involve leaving your house; thus, it is a very safe option. There are many other safe ways to celebrate Valentine’s day, so do not forget to try to be creative in thinking of your way to celebrate!

Whether you are celebrating the holiday this year or not, I hope you all have a great Valentine’s Day 2021!