The History Behind the Hearts

How Valentine’s Day Came To Be


Shanna Hatfield

A Floral Take on A Valentine’s Heart

Hunter Watson

Every year we see the candy hearts, the chocolate, the teddy bears, and all that wonderful lovey-dovey stuff. But why do we do it? When did we start doing it? How did these chocolate-coated traditions come about in the first place? Well, it all started a long time ago in ancient Rome.

No one’s really sure of the very first origins, but our first mention of something resembling it would be the Roman fertility festival, Lupercalia, which was normally held on February 15th. However, the Christians didn’t want to embrace such a pagan celebration, so Pope Gelasius remade it as a Christian feast day in the year 496 a.d. He declared February 14th St. Valentine’s Day. It’s unclear which saint that the pope wanted to honor, as there’s three saints by that name, and according to some sources, all three were martyred on the same day. According to other texts, however, it said that during the Roman festival young men would draw names of young women out of a jar and they would behave as a couple for the duration of the festival. Sometimes, they would even get married!

How did we get the tradition of saying “From your Valentine” though? Well, according to legend, St. Valentine was arrested by Claudius and fell in love with his daughter. Before he was executed, he sent her a letter signed “from your Valentine.” Since this seemed like such a romantic act, young men began signing in this manner on their letters to their lovers. Over the years this, combined with the ancient festival, morphed into what we know today to be Valentine’s Day!