If you go to any store at this time of year, you'll see an entire section filled with cards, candy, and flowers in preparation for February 14th. Statistics show that in 2016, Americans spent 19.7 BILLION dollars on Valentine's Day, which is 6 billion more dollars than 2006. It seems that each year, the profits are only increasing. Although it has become tradition to give each other gifts, Valentine's Day did not start out that way.
So what is the history of Valentine's Day?
The term, "Valentine" comes from a saint that was named Valentine, or Valentinus. According to History.com, the Catholic Church recognized at least three different saints by that name who were all martyred. One legend states that when Claudius II forbid marriage for young soldiers, Valentine performed marriages for couples in secret. Eventually Claudius discovered what Valentine did, and sentenced him to death.
Another legend states that Valentine was imprisoned by Claudius and fell in love with the daughter of his jailer, who visited him in his cell. He then wrote her a letter signed, "From your Valentine," before his death.
The pagan celebration of Lupercalia was celebrated in the middle of February to honor Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture. Women eagerly lined up so men could hit them with goat hide, believing it would make them fertile. The women would then each put their names in a big urn, and the men took turns drawing a name. The couples would get together for the duration of the holiday, and many of the relationships resulted in marriage.
So there you have it! The history of the romantic holiday is actually much darker and stranger than we all thought. Have you heard any other stories? Comment down below!